Washington – Following the historic, bipartisan, 216-198 passage of the DREAM Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a vote on the same bill in the U.S. Senate. On Thursday, he moved to table the Senate version of DREAM so that the chamber could take up the House-passed version after tax legislation is dispensed with.
On a press call Thursday, DREAM-eligible youth and their allies hailed the bipartisan breakthrough in the House and the Senate strategy, which put DREAM in a much stronger position of becoming law this year. The last step is for a handful of Senate Republicans to join with the Democrats and support this legislation.
Speakers applauded the leadership of Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen Xavier Becerra, Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, John Conyers, Zoe Lofgren, Howard Berman, Lucile Roybal-Allard, Luis Gutierrez, Nydia Velazquez and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, Blue Dog Democrats, and the Republicans who supported the bill. Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz- Balart lead the charge for the Republican Party, and were joined by five of their colleagues in this bipartisan vote.
Tyler Moran from the National Immigration Law Center spoke about the importance of the House vote, saying, “This was not only a historic moment for young immigrants, but a defining vote for courage and leadership in Congress. Now, we must continue this momentum and encourage Republican senators to come to the table and not stand in the way.”
“Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen opened her DC office to me and other DREAM students as a base of operations to lobby for the DREAM Act,” said Gaby Pacheco, DREAM-eligible leader from Florida. “She and Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart voted for the DREAM Act and are heroes where I live in South Florida. They brought us this far and now it is up to Senator George LeMieux to cast the deciding vote next week. The Latino community is watching him with hope in our hearts.”
Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza urged bipartisanship and courage in the Senate. “The floor statements and vote count in the House showed the diversity of support for the DREAM Act and reaffirmed the very essence of the bill – a bipartisan solution that allowed young immigrants to follow their dreams of serving America. If Senators vote against the DREAM Act, they are voting against the immigrant community and against our children.”
“The DREAM Act reflects the best tradition of our nation,” said Kevin Appleby of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Investing in the promise of our youth is the hallmark that has served America well. This is one of those moments when our leaders will look back on their careers and be proud that they did the right thing by supporting the DREAM Act.”
Carlos Saavedra of United We Dream Network concluded, “We are close. We have momentum. Senator Reid has shown the courage needed to pass this bill and we will put the biggest pressure on those senators that stand before making our dreams a reality.
For more on the DREAM Act, see: www.americasvoiceonline.org/dream
To read stories about young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act, click here.