How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Dream Act: Is it still alive, or isn't it?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Participants in a vigil and rally for the Dream Act in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night, December 7, 2010

This morning, when the Senate voted to table action on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant legal status to certain undocumented college students and military hopefuls, a group of students and other supporters of the bill who watched the vote take place on C-SPAN in downtown Los Angeles breathed a sigh of relief.

As they saw it, the Senate's move to shelve its version of the bill, and vote at a later date on the version approved last night in the House, would perhaps give them more time to call legislators and drum up support.

But there are different interpretations of what occurred today. Some news reports have characterized the Senate's move as essentially leaving the bill to die a slow death. One NPR piece described the bill as having "very likely died" today.

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In the news, this afternoon: Different takes on Dream Act vote, ICE targeting gangs, more

Senate Tables DREAM Act Vote, But It’s Still Alive - ColorLines After the Senate moved to table the bill this morning, the next opportunity for a vote remains unclear. Senate Democrats are promising it will happen before the end of the year.


DREAM Act delayed in Senate: Prospects of cloture by year's end fading - The Washington Post Today's delay on a vote will allow the Senate to take up an amended version of the bill that passed the House on Wednesday night.


DREAM Act news: With bill stalled in Senate, what happens next? - Christian Science Monitor Reports suggest that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is waiting until the GOP's tax deal struck with President Obama is resolved, though it's uncertain when that might happen.


Gang Activity Now a Focus for Immigration Agency - New York Times Stepped-up action against gangs reflects a nationwide shift in priorities by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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'Live to die another day:' With Senate Dream Act vote tabled, students go back to the phones

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

UCLA graduate student Carlos Amador addresses media at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles following the Senate's vote to table to Dream Act until next week, December 9, 2010

The Senate's decision this morning to table a vote on the Dream Act was greeted with optimism and a bit of relief by Los Angeles students and graduates who celebrated the bill's victory in the House last night, after a long day of making calls to legislators for support. Now, they go back to the phones.

"Last night's vote in the House was an historic vote," said Carlos Amador, 27, an undocumented UCLA graduate student and one of the leaders among the local students pushing for the bill. As for the Senate, "we know it's a tough battle, but we know that we can make it."

Amador, along with other college students, graduates and Dream Act supporters, spoke to reporters at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, where dozens spent yesterday calling legislators from a makeshift phone bank.

Several of the students gathered again today to make more calls before the anticipated Senate vote. While a decisive vote was expected today, the Senate voted to table the measure until later this month, possibly next week.

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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.

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Students wait as Senate Dream Act vote delayed until tomorrow, but House still votes tonight

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A homemade poster on the wall of the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, where about two dozen student activists are calling legislators and awaiting a vote on the Dream Act, December 8, 2010

The Senate won't be voting on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act now until tomorrow, according to a spokesman from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office. Meanwhile, the House continues to discuss the bill, with a vote still expected tonight.

For the college students and graduates who have been calling legislators all day from a makeshift call center in downtown Los Angeles, some since 6 a.m., waiting another day for the Senate to vote means another early morning. But those still around this afternoon at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center were unfazed, hoping the extra time might work in their favor. While the bill stands a chance of passing in the House, its prospects appear dim in the Senate, where more Republican votes are needed for cloture.

"Compromise needs to be realized," said Matias Ramos, 24, an undocumented UCLA graduate who now lives in Washington, D.C., where he works for a small Dream Act advocacy group. "That is the silver lining, that there may be a compromise."

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