Immigrant Student Advocacy Group Gets a “Yes” on the DREAM Act from Sen. Mark Warner
WASHINGTON D.C., June 18, 2010: On Wednesday of this week, six immigrant high school and college graduates from Harrisonburg, Virginia, arrived in Senator Mark Warner’s D.C. office wearing graduation caps and matching shirts emblazoned with the words “Support the DREAM Act.” It was one of Senator Warner’s monthly “Congressional Coffee” events where Virginia residents are able to nab a photo opportunity and, for the persistent, a few minutes to advocate for an issue important to them. For the first time, Senator Warner stated he would vote “Yes” on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, if it came to the floor of the Senate.
Amidst a crowd of visiting Virginians and lobbyists, the young DREAM Act team wound their way toward the Senator in order to use their personal stories to urge him to co-sponsor the DREAM Act. DREAM Activist – Virginia leader, Isabel, told Senator Warner her story. She was brought to the United States at age 6 by her parents without documents (although her father had work papers). She passed through local schools and received a bachelor degree with honors in social work. But even after 19 years in the Valley, she still cannot get a social security number and work due to her legal status. The group then urged Senator Warner to co-sponsor the legislation this year rather than wait for comprehensive immigration reform.
The futures of these high achieving graduates rest in the Act, which would provide a pathway, via higher education or military service, to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors, have no criminal background and have lived in the United States for at least five consecutive years. At present, the DREAM Act has 38 co-sponsors. It is currently the only immigration bill proposal receiving Senate consideration so far this year. It needs 13 more co-sponsors for Senator Durbin (IL), the chief sponsor and Senate Majority Whip, to bring it to the floor for a Senate vote.
P.S. from Martha: If you missed the Virginia Insight program on the DREAM Act and would like to listen to Tom Graham's conversation with Nicole Budiuz, Bob Dane, Alexandria de Havilland, and Elizabeth A. Kohler Maya, here's a link to the Virginia Insight archives. Just click and scroll down until you reach the May 17th, 2010 program.Senator Warner has thus far refrained from committing to co-sponsorship of the Act. However, according to Isabel, “His verbal support is an encouraging sign.”