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Monday, September 20, 2010

Senate To Vote On DREAM Act Tuesday. Local Activists To Picket Feinstein's Office.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 4:59 PM

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You may recall our July cover feature on young undocumented immigrants waiting for the DREAM Act, a bill that would give illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military a path to citizenship. At the time the story came out, many advocates predicted that Democrats would lack the balls to push for the bill's passage in a midterm election year, since critics lambaste the DREAM Act as a backdoor amnesty program rewarding illegal immigrants.

Yet last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would tack the DREAM Act onto the defense spending bill, which faces its first vote to move forward on Tuesday. No doubt the DREAM Act has an obvious military connection, since it applies to immigrants who serve two years in the armed forces. Some analysts have said the act would be a boon to recruitment. Yet Republicans are calling Reid's move a cynical 11th-hour attempt to secure the Latino vote for the Democratic Party without grappling with comprehensive immigration reform.

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Whatever motivated the move, local activists will be out in their graduation caps and gowns outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Post Street office Tuesday just in time for the Senate vote -- expected at 11:15 local time. While it appears to be a replay of the student protest back in June, this time they'll come with Supervisor John Avalos, and a few professors and teachers in tow.

Avalos isn't the first city supe to come out in support of the measure. Last week, Supervisor David Campos, who came to the country illegally when he was 14, flew to Washington to join San Francisco faith leaders and immigrant activists lobbying key Republicans and Bay Area Democrats on the DREAM Act and other immigration reform measures. They spoke with Nancy Pelosi's office, though Madam Speaker herself was too busy to meet with them, says Erik Schnabel, a member of San Francisco-based Out4Immigration. Still, a San Francisco State student who spotted Pelosi walking by handed her a stack of signatures she'd collected from other State students.

Jaime Torres, the president of SF State's club for undocumented students, told us he tried not to think about the specter of the DREAM Act not passing -- which would mean he wouldn't be able to land lawful employment after graduating.

"I try not to dwell too much on it, because when I think too much about it, it seriously depresses me," he says. "I'm just going to run into this wall as hard as possible."

Depending on what happens tomorrow, there might now be a door.

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Lauren Smiley

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