Senate Votes Against Taking Up DREAM Act. Local Students Bummed.

Categories: Immigration
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Nope. Not today.
The U.S. Senate today voted against taking up the the defense budget bill -- curtailing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's last-minute plan to tack on an amendment to give illegal immigrants who go to college or into the military a chance at citizenship.

The Wall Street Journal is haranguing Reid's attempt to add on what's known as the DREAM Act as a cynical ploy for Latino support of  Democratic candidates before midterm elections without pursuing comprehensive immigration reform. While the effect of today's no-go at the ballot box remains to be seen, Reid's maneuvering did succeed in one thing: raising the hopes of young immigrants who hope they'll have a chance to get a legal job after years at the university or in the military. Now they've been let down. Again.

"It's kind of frustrating," says Jaime Torres, the co-chair of the student club of undocumented students at San Francisco State, who was featured in our July cover feature on the bill. Torres (who's name we've changed due to his fear or deportation) was brought here by his parents from Mexico when he was one. He now now is majoring in microbiology, though doesn't know if he'll legally be able to work upon graduating -- or afford medical school. "You really wonder, is it going to be like this forever? Are we just going to have a generation of people who are outcasted from society?"

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Torres said he and other students had called Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah in support of the bill, and passed out fliers on campus urging other students to do the same. Yet Torres had watched as the Senate had voted against debating the bill in 2007, and said today's vote was mere deja vu.

"I was getting hopeful again," Torres said of Reid's announcement he'd pursue the DREAM Act as an amendment to the defense bill. "You're all hopeful and it doesn't pull through."

A midterm exam kept Torres from a protest outside of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Post Street office today, timed to coincide with the vote. Supervisor John Avalos and District 6 Supervisor candidate Jane Kim showed up along with about 50 undocumented students and community leaders, said Lisa Chen of the Asian Law Caucus.

Chen says she is not yet counting this "procedural vote" as a loss. "It was not a test of the DREAM Act. It's just a small setback. This is just encouragement to keep fighting in the next couple of weeks. [Senator Reid] said he was going to make it a reality by the end of the year. We're going to hold him accountable."

Good luck with that.

Photos   |   Asian Law Caucus. 

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