Next steps for passing the DREAM Act

We had an eventful week on the DREAM Act, to say the least. On Tuesday with a 56 to 43 vote the senate decided to not proceed with a debate on the Defense Authorization Bill, which meant no DREAM Act as an amendment. Undocumented youth around the country responded that we were not giving up and began to urge Senator Reid (D-NV) to move the bill as stand alone legislation (as opposed to as an amendment). Our actions included more calls, and and actions around the country, including the “I too Am America DREAM Act Rally” here in Chicago (video below). In the last week, we also made over 65,000 calls, e-mails and faxes to legislators nationwide, according to America’s Voice.

On Thursday, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) did just that, setting it up for Reid to put it on the calendar.

But our sources in DC, mostly dreamers and organizers, including our own IYJL representatives, tell us that Reid’s office wont move DREAM until after the elections, during what is known as the “lame duck” session, between November and January. As far as we know, this can be DREAM as stand alone, or as an amendment when DOD is brought up again.

So what do we do meanwhile? We continue to organize.

Here in Illinois we should be looking at the senate race Kirk v. Giannoualias, because who ever wins gets to vote on the DREAM Act. Giannoulias says he is in favor of the DREAM Act, and Kirk reports to be undecided. In a game where every vote counts, we should know where our potential senators stand on this legislation.

We will also continue to work in solidarity with groups around the country to get the 5 or so votes we need in support of the DREAM Act from potential republican allies. As an undocumented youth-led student movement we have  decided to focus on how undocumented students serve the country, whether it is as community organizers, psychologists, teachers, or as members of the armed forces.

As a start to that campaign, undocumented students who want to join the army began to be more active in the movement. Although not all of us want to join the army, we believe in supporting those undocumented students who do. This is a video from an action organized here in Chicago:

Nationally, we will be highlighting these stories, because we need to show republicans and democrats the diversity of undocumented students, who include those who want to serve the United States armed forces (Also check out what is happening in Arizona, with the ‘DREAM Army‘)

But we also need to figure out how to make sure that we can pass the DREAM Act before the next congress. So how do we mobilize? How do we keep those who are supposed to represent us accountable? How do we work together to advance immigrant rights?

And although right now I have no answers for these questions, and we will have to figure them out together, I am absolutely sure that we will win.

Tania Unzueta.

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