Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

DREAM Act campaign heats up before vote tomorrow

DREAM Act supporters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 2009
DREAM Act supporters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 2009
Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

With a day to go before a Senate vote on the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that would allow a path to legal status for undocumented youths who go to college or join the military, student groups and other supporters are pulling out all the stops in their campaign to secure votes.

Makeshift phone banks have been set up all over the country, including one at the UCLA Labor Center in Westlake and another at Cal State Northridge, from where students and supporters are calling legislators. Political and school leaders in Los Angeles plan a press conference this afternoon in support of the measure, and rallies, vigils and campus activities are being planned for throughout the week.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of several local groups promoting the legislation, said the measure must first clear an initial vote tomorrow, with two subsequent votes that would then take place in the coming weeks.

"If we get past the first, we will still need to do a lot more activities," Cabrera said.

Several DREAM Act-related events in California and elsewhere received press coverage over the weekend, including a camp-out by undocumented military hopefuls in front of Republican Sen. John McCain's office in Phoenix. McCain has said he does not plan to support the proposal, particularly not as an attachment to the Defense Authorization bill.

However, because the DREAM Act serves as a recruiting tool - a controversial aspect of the measure - it has received support from the U.S. Department of Defense, which refers to it as the "DREAM initiative" in a strategic plan or 2010 through 2010 in a section that addresses recruitment.

A synopsis of just what the DREAM Act entails was featured in a post last week.