Written by Bridget Feldmann:
DREAMers and members of Florida’s interfaith community came together on May 13th to express strong collective approval of recent action on the part of Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). On May 11th, these two politicians helped to reintroduce the DREAM act to the U.S. Congress.
The common stance on this issue amongst various politically and religiously affiliated groups is evidence of its immense importance. According to First Focus, 70% of Americans currently support the DREAM act. Republicans and Democrats in Florida have come together, as well as leaders of different faiths, to speak out on this crucial policy. Now is definitely the time, as Obama ramps up focus on immigration reform. Copycat bills similar to Arizona’s debatably unconstitutional law were recently shot down in the Florida Legislature as well.
At the press conference on May 13th, sponsored by Hope Community Center, National Farm Worker Ministry, United We Dream, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, FOCUS and the Federation of Congregations United to Serve, a young woman named Evelyn told her story. She came to the United States when she was three years old and has lived here ever since, for 19 years. Her mother was deported four years ago after getting caught driving without a license, and Evelyn has not seen her since. Although a youth leader in her home town of Apopka, FL, one who participated in honors club and took AP classes, it took Evelyn two and a half years to arrange to attend college. Even now, she is only able to attend part-time, because for her, each class costs four times the amount that a documented student would have to pay.
“I am ecstatic that they are re-introducing the DREAM Act, especially with the momentum that we have now in Florida” she exclaimed. “The youth in Florida are ready to take the DREAM Act on and make it a reality for this year. We are very thankful to Senator Durbin and especially Senator Bill Nelson. We, as Floridians, appreciate his continued support.”
The DREAMers aren’t the only ones who share her sentiments. Reverend Jose Elias Gonzalez, Senior Pastor of Love and Living Hope Church, conveyed his community’s sympathy for current DREAMers:
“This is not just a matter that some may consider political. Truly I believe it’s a moral as well as a spiritual one … After being educated and groomed here as productive individuals, it’s almost like now they’re being placed into a room with no windows, locked doors, waiting for someone to graciously give them another opportunity to continue to develop into the great human beings that they are … We’re arresting the development of these individuals who have worked so hard.”
Like many other speakers on the call, Gonzalez also called upon Sen. Marco Rubio to reevaluate his unfortunate stance with regards to the DREAM act:
“I … would ask Senator Rubio to reconsider his position on the Dream Act, and take a few minutes to talk to these young men and women in the state that he represents, and see the value of knowing their hearts, their passions, and the love that they have for their country. I think the only mistake, if they could’ve made a mistake at all, was their obedience to their parents.”
Hopefully his remarks will resonate with Rubio as well as other anti-DREAM politicians as we see the bill go forward. The passage of the DREAM act is clearly the best (and favored) move for his home state, as well as the rest of the nation as a whole.