DREAM Act rejection will come back to haunt Republicans, warns CO immigrant advocate

On Monday, advocates rallied at North High School in favor of the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented graduates from U.S. high schools. (See a recap and photos here.) But yesterday, Senate Republicans stalled the measure, likely killing it for now. Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition's Julie Gonzales warns that Republicans will pay for this move at the polls. See her statement in the release below:

The US Senate Misses a Chance to Help Thousands of Immigrant Youth by Failing to Get Cloture on DREAM Act

Denver, CO -- Today the US Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to push forward the DREAM Act. The vote, along party lines, was on the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill which included the DREAM Act as an amendment because it would allow thousands of potential new recruits to join the military.

"The question we have for the Republican opposition is: ' What are you thinking when you deny youth a chance to follow their dreams?'" said Julie Gonzales, Political Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, "The Republicans have shown us that they do not care about the Latino vote or the youth vote; all they care about is their failed strategy of 'no'. It will come back to haunt them."

Latino voters nationwide are paying close attention to this vote, seen as a bellwether on further immigration reform legislation. Senators Udall and Bennet of Colorado are both cosponsors of the DREAM Act, and their support has been deeply appreciated by the Colorado immigrant and Latino communities.

"This year, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and partner groups will be talking to tens of thousands of Colorado voters about the various issues that will affect them, and immigration reform is a top issue, especially for Latino voters," continued Gonzales, "Those that oppose it should be prepared to answer questions from their constituents about this disgusting strategy to alienate the fastest-growing bloc of voters in America."

Young Latino voters statewide echoed Julie's comments.

"I am voting for the first time this year, and I will be voting for every one of my friends who is waiting in the shadows for the DREAM act to pass," said Flor Marquez, an 18 year old Latina voter, "I watched this vote closely, and what I saw was an organized effort by one party to deny my friends and family the American dream. By refusing to allow youth the chance to be fully American, the Senate Republicans have failed in their responsibility of ensuring a better future for all of us. I will remember this and so will all my friends, especially when we walk into a voting booth."

The DREAM Act would provide conditional permanent residency status to undocumented youth who are of good moral character, came here before they were 16 years old, and have lived here for over 5 years. In addition, it would require the youth to complete 2 years of college or military service in order to be eligible. The DREAM Act is a part of the comprehensive immigration reform proposal supported by President Obama.

"We will keep fighting, because it is the right thing to do for our communities and our families," said Ana Temu, another first time voter in Northern Colorado, "We will be out there -- working and voting to make sure the Senate acts and makes DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform a reality."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts