How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Joy and tears as Dream Act clears House

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Students in Los Angeles react to news of the Dream Act victory in the House, December 8, 2010

Jubilant students in downtown Los Angeles reacted with joyful shouts and tears as they watched a C-SPAN broadcast with the results of the Dream Act vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, which just approved the measure.

A Senate vote is expected tomorrow. If the bill clears both chambers of Congress, the legislation will provide conditional legal status for undocumented youths who arrived here before age 16, provided they attend college or enlist in the military and that they meet strict criteria.

Dozens of students, many of them undocumented, manned the phones all day at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center next to McArthur Park, calling legislators for their support. Tonight, as the vote count was reported, excited students cheered, cried and hugged one another.

It's a tentative victory for them, and they are cautiously optimistic. So far, there has not been sufficient Republican support in the Senate for the bill to pass. The students will return to the center tomorrow at 7 a.m. to await the Senate vote, expected to take place in the morning.

"We have another fight tomorrow," said Matias Ramos, an undocumented UCLA graduate.

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