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Students Continue Push for DREAM Act

Immigrants rights groups have shifted their immigration organizing efforts to smaller bills, such as the DREAM Act for undocumented students, as comprehensive immigration reform efforts stall in Congress. Prospects for the DREAM Act are also uncertain, but students continue to push for legislation that would help some illegal immigrant students move toward citizenship.

In Colorado, students protested Thursday outside offices for Sen. Michael Bennet. Eva Serenil, a community liason for Bennet, told The Colorado Independent Bennet supports the DREAM Act as part of comprehensive immigration reform:

“In his letter Sen. Bennet stated that it is imperative that we have a workable immigration system that balances the needs of our law enforcement, city and state government and our economy as a whole,” said Serenil. “Senator Bennet stated the Dream Act must be part of comprehensive immigration reform.”

Serenil told the Colorado Independent that the senator does not have a formalized position on the DREAM Act as a standalone bill. “I was not aware of the calls for a standalone bill before I got here.”

Reid has said he would consider passing the DREAM Act as a standalone measure, but first needs to know he would have the votes necessary to pass it. That’s not easy — Democrats aren’t all a sure “yea” vote, and even Republicans such as Orrin Hatch, who supported previous iterations of the bill, have so far declined to say they would support it this year.

Of course, it’s hard to predict how the upcoming elections will change the calculus. Republican Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina said Wednesday that she would support the DREAM Act: “I do not believe that we can punish children who through no fault of their own are here trying to live the American dream.”

In lieu of national legislation, California student activists are hoping to at least make gains with the California DREAM Act, which was passed by the state senate after vetoes in previous years. The act would allow undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition to apply for financial aid. As it heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, students are circulating a petition to ask him not to veto the bill.

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