U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin rallies for Obama and DREAM Act during LA stop

Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC

Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, author of the DREAM Act, stands next to Assemblyman Gil Cedillo during a "Latinos for Obama" rally.

U.S. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois hasn’t given up on his plan for a federal DREAM Act.

Even though the measure hasn't received the support it needs to pass the Senate, Durbin has reintroduced it in every session of Congress since 2001.

At a small Latinos for Obama rally in downtown L.A. on Friday, Durbin stood next to two young undocumented women from Southern California who have been his poster children all along.

“Fifty different times I came to the floor of the United States Senate with color photographs — Maria Gomez was one of those, and Maria Luna," Durbin said. "Both of them were my DREAMers and I told their stories to America, on the floor of the United States Senate. And as the conversation followed, the debate changed.”

The debate changed, Durbin explained, because as time went on, more Republican lawmakers came to oppose the bill, including its original co-author, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. The DREAM Act would give young unlawful immigrants who came here as children the chance to earn legal status if they attended school or served in the military, and had no criminal record.

Opponents of the DREAM Act argue it will encourage and reward illegal immigration. Campaigning for Obama — who will be in L.A. on Sunday for fundraisers — Durbin said the bill will continue to be a priority for him as the November presidential election nears.

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