Act on the DREAM Act

Father Tom Joyce CMF| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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The DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students or young people who would volunteer for military service, comes up before the House of Representatives this week. This is probably the last chance, since the House changes hands in January, and the Republicans in charge will be less likely to move on any legislation favorable to immigrants. It will be a task to thwart repressive legislation.

To reach your members of Congress, please call 202-225-3121, and give his/her name. You can learn more from the bishop's justiceforimmigrants.com site, which allows you to contact your representatives. Catholic Charities also has a DREAM Act action alert. Opponents of the law are already inundating Capitol Hill with calls, faxes, e-mails and tweets.

In the Senate there is the problem of a filibuster. The Republicans are stonewalling all action to force the Democrats to accept their version of an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Even if the DREAM Act gets through the House, there is talk that it will be modified in the Senate to win GOP votes—for example cutting the upper age for qualifying from 35 years to 30. A straight vote would pass the act, were it not for the filibuster. However slim the chances are to get to the floor, next year the prospects for any immigration reform get even slimmer.

The struggle isn't entirely without benefit. The plight of the undocumented students has gain a sympathetic public hearing. More of the students themselves have ventured out of the shadows to mobilize and plead their own cause. They’ve accomplished much over the last month. They’ve made their case that they want to be contributing members of the only country they really know, even showing up at military enlistment centers to volunteer (New York Times).

Now that they have come out of the shadows, it would be a shame to force them back in—especially during a season when we commemorate the travels of a Child in the womb and at the breast of His mother, compelled by fear and prejudice to migrate.