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Thursday, December 9, 2010

DREAM Act Senate Vote Looming For Bay Area Illegal Immigrant Students

Posted By on Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge Is there a path to citizenship for her?
  • Is there a path to citizenship for her?

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 computer.

"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."

For 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."

As 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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Lauren Smiley

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