DREAM Act Activists React to Republican Filibuster

As soon as she heard that Republicans had filibustered a defense bill that would have brought the DREAM Act to a vote in the Senate, Lizbeth Mateo got on a plane and headed to Washington D.C., along with other DREAM Act student activists who are not giving up on getting the decade-old bill passed this year. “I’ve been here since then, lobbying a lot of people,” Mateo told Latina.com. “We were hopeful, but we knew it was going to be tough.”

The DREAM Act, which would allow many undocumented students to stay in the country in return for college attendance or military service, was included as an amendment to the $725 billion defense bill, along with the controversial repeal of the military’s gay-aimed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. But on Tuesday, Republicans filibustered the bill to prevent it coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Mateo, one of a group of four undocumented students and supporters who were arrested in May after staging a sit-in in Sen. John McCain’s Arizona office, said that her organization, The Dream is Coming, and the national United We Dream have been working the senate hallways and hitting senators’ offices in hopes of keeping the DREAM Act alive.

While grateful that Sen. Harry Reid, who introduced the defense bill, supports undocumented students via the DREAM Act, Mateo and others student activists say their best hopes lie in its passing as a stand-alone bill. They hope to push for just that, and for a vote before midterm elections in November. “Many senators that we’ve talked to, including Republicans, have promised their support as a stand-alone bill, and we’re going to hold them to that,” Mateo said.

Mateo and others featured in a story about DREAM activists in Latina’s September issue say they will continue to fight. “We are highly organized. We will remember this November who voted against our DREAM,” said Gaby Pacheco, of presente.org. “Immigrant youth—documented and undocumented—represent one of the most dynamic and engaged political forces this country has seen in some time. We won’t rest until we pass the DREAM Act.”