NEW YORK—After a long day on Wednesday waiting for the House vote on the DREAM Act, a group of New York State Youth Leadership Council members gathered on Thursday morning to repeatedly call and urge their senators to support the bill, and to watch the televised vote that had been announced for 11 a.m.
But the program changed when the Senate decided to table its version of the bill. At first everyone was confused.
“Is this good?” someone asked.
“Do we know what happened exactly?” a young woman named Tania wondered.
After reading some tweets and emails coming from senators, representatives, lawyers and their fellow “dreamers” across the nation, the group decided it was good.
The DREAM act would allow young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to apply for citizenship after ten years of conditional status, through a program requiring them to attend college or enter the military for two years.
“The Senate version of the bill was pretty much put aside to, one, save time, and to move forward with the DREAM Act version in the House. So that will be brought up next week. Because if the Senate votes on the same version as the House there really needs to be no discussion and it goes straight to the President,” said Norma Juárez, who was optimistic.
“It gives us time to make phone calls, especially to those targeted senators that said they don’t know and that said they would set their decisions on constituent calls, the amount of calls that they get. They said that, so, we have to call,” Juárez added.
“It makes us feel anxious and excited and it’s another week, but… you know, we are having a great time,” Mattos said.
The whole day, the group continued making phone calls and posting tweets on the results.
At the same time, in Queens, Natalia Aristizábal, a youth organizer for Make the Road New York, an immigrant-rights advocacy organization, got together with some members to watch the vote on C-SPAN. She agreed that this decision won’t kill the dream.
“Not at all, on the contrary, I think these are good signs. If they were doing this just for show, they would have voted today. But they are buying time. This gives us more time to organize and make more phone calls,” Aristizábal said.
Aristizábal and Sonia Guinansaca, from the NYSYLC, said that all the activists in the country will be calling a list of Senate Republicans and Democrats until the vote, and that New York will focus on Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the two Republican senators from Maine.
Since the November NYC elections, MRNY members have been hard at work setting the agenda for our next mayor, City Council and citywide elected officials.
We kicked off "Talking Transition" with a low-wage worker forum and our attorneys have been staffing a Single Stop clinic around the clock at the Transition tent.
Recently, our youth joined the Transitions conversation to bring education and police reform issues into the spotlight for the new elected officials. 17-year-old youth leader Cheyanne Smith was also profiled in the New York Times for her leadership to make NYC schools more respectful, safe, and dignified places for learning.