Monday, December 20, 2010

A Prayer for a Dream

It was an interesting weekend in the US Senate. First a bunch of old rich white guys voted against the DREAM Act, effectively killing it, then the same bunch of old rich white guys voted in favor of ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending discrimination against homosexuals in the US military. Now it looks as though Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, has shamed the Scrooge like Senators into reconsidering health care for 9/11 first responders. 

Two for three ain’t bad unless you’re in the group that supports the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act, which has been kicking around in Congress for almost 10 years, provides a path to citizenship for children brought to the US by their parents as undocumented immigrants. In Arizona alone, there are thousands of young people, law abiding high school students who were brought to the US by the parents when they were kids - some as infants, others as toddlers or elementary school age. Many don’t speak Spanish anymore (most, but not all, are from Latin America, including Mexico) and most have no recollection of their home country. In the eyes of the law they maybe criminals but they committed no criminal acts. They can hardly be held responsible for the actions of their parents when they were babes in arms. 

The DREAM Act stipulated that undocumented children must 1) have no criminal record, 2) graduate high school and 3) either go to college or join the military before they can apply for residency and citizenship. At one point, when John McCain was touted as a mavericky independent, McCain was an outspoken supporter of the DREAM Act. Then the country tacked a little to the right and McCain tacked a lot to the right and campaigned against the DREAM Act. In other words he flip-flopped. He was for the bill before he was against it. 

This evening there was a prayer service for the DREAM Act. About 100 people were there. I went expecting a funeral like atmosphere. This was the last best chance for the DREAM Act to pass and it didn’t. The incoming Republican dominated, Tea Party influenced, congress will almost certainly not pass it. But rather than a funeral for a DREAM, it was a celebration of the DREAM. A vow to continue the fight and energize Latino voters across the country. 

There are more photos from the DREAM Act prayer service in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.