With the Senate vote on the DREAM Act this morning being pushing back to next week, Bay Area illegal immigrant students are looking to buoy yesterday's victory in the House into a win for the bill that would give them a path to citizenship.
While the bill sits in limbo in the lame-duck Congress, Jaime Torres, the president of San Francisco State's student organization for illegal immigrant students, says he and the network of college students throughout Northern California are hoping to call key senators and stage some protest actions. Torres (not his real name), was one of the students featured in our cover story on the DREAM Act last summer.
The postponement of the vote "definitely gives us more time to organize
and stage actions," Torres says. "I was on a conference call earlier
this morning and it looks like they have 53 votes [in the Senate]. They
just need those last seven. It's just that final push in terms of phonebanking. It's just insane."
Torres says the students called key
representatives last week until their voice mail no longer accepted
messages. Yesterday, he watched the vote on C-SPAN with four
other students and a professor, live-streamed on the professor's
"We were all jumping and high-fiving each other, hugs
all around," he says. "I wasn't even sure it was going to [pass]. At
this point, it's been so long I try not to get my hopes up too much."
this vote, " there was a lot more organizing in the Bay Area, we were
much more part of the movement, so I'm like it has to happen this time,
there's no way it can't squeeze through."
Eva, the San Francisco State grad we also featured in our cover story
-- who is still waiting tables hoping for the bill's passage -- is
encouraged by the House vote. It's added extra steam to her studying for
the LSATS she'll take on Saturday. She says she'll try to go to law
school whether the DREAM Act passes or not. But if it passes it will
make it a lot easier. For one thing, she'd be allowed to apply for federal student loans.
Eva was studying for the test in the library on her phone yesterday when
the bill passed in the House. "I was in the quiet zone in the library so
I couldn't do much" to celebrate, she says. Still she was thrilled.
"I'm really excited. I think it's going to pass. I have my hopes."
for Torres, this is crunch time in more ways than one. Completing his
microbiology major at State, finals are next week, too. He'll be
cramming now for exams and for organizing for the bill's passage.
"These last few days have been all DREAM Act. Somehow I'm squeezing in chemistry and genetics. I don't know how I'm doing it."
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