How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Next step on DREAM Act: A stand-alone bill, supporters say

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Solemn DREAM Act supporters at a downtown rally after Tuesday's Senate vote, September 21, 2010

Today’s Senate vote blocking a defense bill that included the DREAM Act – proposed legislation that would create a path to legal status for undocumented youths who go to college or join the military – is being seen as a temporary hurdle by the bill’s supporters, some of whom rallied this afternoon in downtown Los Angeles following the vote.

“This is not the end for the DREAM Act, this is not the end for the bill, and this is definitely not the end for the immigrant youth movement,” said Carlos Amador, 25, an undocumented UCLA graduate student, addressing a small crowd outside the federal building at 300 N. Los Angeles Street.

The defense bill failed to win the 60 votes necessary for cloture, with 56 senators voting against it and 43 in favor. Votes were divided almost exclusively along partisan lines.

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No to the DREAM Act, at least for now

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Janeth Herrera Bucio, center, and other students in Westlake react to news of the Senate vote, September 21, 2010

The U.S. Senate has voted 56-43 against taking up a defense bill with an amendment that would have included the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal status for undocumented youths who attend college or enlist in the military.

For a group of students who gathered to watch the televised vote in Los Angeles' Westlake district, the news was met with gasps and a few tears. But after nearly a decade of various incarnations of the measure circulating around Congress, the supporters quickly regained their determination.

"Now we're going to push for the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill," said Leslie Perez, 21, an undocumented UCLA student.

Perez, who dabbed at tears as the vote was read, and others said they were encouraged by a speech by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) that followed the vote; Durbin has long championed the proposed legislation.

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Waiting for a DREAM Act vote

Students at a makeshift calling center at the UCLA Labor Center in the Westlake district of Los Angeles watch C-SPAN 2 in anticipation of a U.S. Senate vote on the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal status for undocumented youths who attend college or join the military. Since last week, supporters of the proposed legislation have been making calls to legislators from here and other calling banks.

The proposal is attached as an amendment to a defense bill. A vote is expected any minute.

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Video: A DREAM Act rally in Los Angeles

http://vimeo.com/15148067

Students and supporters of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act at a rally outside the Roybal Learning Center yesterday afternoon, attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Unified School District officials. A story is featured on the 89.3 KPCC website.

The proposed legislation, being voted on by the Senate today as part of a defense bill, would create a path to legal status for undocumented youths who attend college or join the military. Student groups and other supporters have events scheduled in California and other states throughout the week.

A synopsis of what the bill entails can be found here.

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