The DREAM Act is a bipartisan failure

The dream is deferred.

But it is not dead.

The "dreamers," the undocumented youth who are fighting for their civil rights in the only country they know as home, the United States, will not give up the fight.


Tania Unzueta

"Politically we knew this could happen but we still had this small hope," said Tania Unzueta of Chicago, one of the co-founders of the Immigrant Youth Justice League which has mobilized for the DREAM Act over the last year with rallies, sit-ins and protests.

Unzueta and 16 other youth from Illinois travelled to Washington, D.C., to witness the Senate vote on the DREAM Act.

After it failed, they left in tears and filled with sadness.

Unzueta told me in a phone interview they will continue to organize but it could be another two to four years before they see Congress take up the DREAM Act again.

"Maybe we can use this failure of the DREAM Act to become more of a political force," said Unzueta, 27, who is undocumented and has lived in the United States since she was a young girl.

There were many senators who spoke out in defense of the undocumented youth, including one of their champions, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

"I'm asking for what is in effect an act of political courage," Durbin said. "...The cause of justice is worth the political risk."

In the end the Senate didn't have the courage.

The cloture vote failed 55 to 41 Saturday morning. They needed 60 votes for it to move forward.

We can't blame Republicans only. It was truly a bipartisan failure. Several Democrats failed the dreamers. The Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act include Max Baucus and Jon Tester from Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

Republican Mark Kirk, our newly elected Illinois senator, voted against the DREAM Act too. That wasn't a surprise.

It was that several Republicans voted for the DREAM Act. They included Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Bennett of Utah.

The only bit of hope Saturday morning was that the Senate approved a cloture vote to repeal the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy against gays in the military. That passed 63 to 33.

Both of these measures were fundamentally about defending civil rights. The rights of gays in the military and the rights of undocumented immigrants.

It appears our Senate supports gay rights more than those of undocumented students who did not come to this country by choice. They were brought here by their parents as minors. Some of them want to join the military and risk their lives for this country.

The DREAM Act would create a pathway to legalization for those who came here before the age of 16 and complete two years of college or military service.

I wonder how much longer the dreamers will have to wait to become equal members of our society.

Some of them who came here at the ages of 5 and 6 are now in their late 20s. They could lose their eligibility to become legal under the DREAM Act in a few years. They have been waiting for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, and a version of the failed legislation was first proposed almost 10 years ago. It could take another, two, four or 10 years but they will not give up fighting for their rights.

I will invoke the great late Martin Luther King Jr. and remind the dreamers and all of us that their struggle is our own.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

We must fight for that equality, and in this day and age that includes defending the rights of undocumented youth.

Filed under: Hispanic, immigration, politics


Leave a comment
  • The Democrats have only themselves to blame. For shame on the Feckless Five.

    Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jon Tester of Montana should be remembered for killing this DREAM and not the GOP.

  • As an African American I am appalled that you would dare to try to equate your struggle with the civil rights movement. With that said the racism in latino culture itself is alive and well. We can see evidence of that in latin television, such as Univision that ran racist skits of black africans during the world cup and not a peep from latin folks. In fact blacks are not even allowed on latin tv unless they are depicted as butlers or maids. Genocide against indigenous populations runs rampant in almost all latin countries. Yet all I see is aquiesence from latinos. In fact the word latino means white you see latin is from Italy not from the americas so until you people stop being racist dont come to america and try to tell us we are racist! clean up your house and no we shouldnt have to support law breakers whose parents broke the law! blacks hardly have access and there are cutbacks you mean you want us to cut you in at our expense I say fuck you

  • In reply to gungadin:

    Typical reply, and totally expected to be honest. When people buy into segregation based entitlements you create anger between people.

    Let's do what's right for all Americans, not just Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans or white Americans . . . but all Americans.

  • Undocumented = illegal, right? The dream act was killed by the Dems, they have the necessary numbers to pass bills during the lame duck session. In fact, the Dems have been held the majority in Congress since 2006 and produced nothing. Not all bad in my opinion since I'm more concerned about revoking citizenship to anchor babies more than offering rights to illegals.

    "IFF" we pas anything like a dream act for just "attending" college, then let's start with the scores of engineers and science graduates from all over the world that attend our universities first.

    The brain drain this country experiences every year due to a lack of work visas and green cards should be a priority before offering a those who are here illegally cut in line.

    - Concerned Hispanic citizen

Leave a comment