RACINE - Local supporters of the DREAM Act were rained out of a rally Tuesday night but they say such obstacles - not only the bad weather but the rejection of a bill that also dashed hopes for immediate immigration reform Tuesday - only makes them stronger.
About 20 students and activists cut short their vigil Tuesday night at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., calling on the city to pass a resolution supporting the DREAM Act, a proposed federal law that would allow illegal immigrant youth to become legal citizens if they meet certain requirements. A Racine Unified School Board committee decided last week to begin drafting a resolution in support of the act.
The DREAM Act, which the Senate considered Tuesday as part of a larger defense spending bill, died in the Senate Tuesday after a 56-43 vote, falling short of the 60 it needed to take up the bill, which includes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
The proposed law, called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, would give illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 the opportunity to become citizens if they attend college or serve in the military. Being a U.S. citizen would allow them to have Social Security numbers, which would let them apply for and hold legal jobs and receive federal funding for higher education, among other things.
Students involved in Youth Empowered in the Struggle, the youth chapter of Voces de la Frontera, are planning to hold vigils every night this week at 6 p.m. at City Hall to ask city officials to pass a resolution supporting the DREAM Act.
Mayor John Dickert said Tuesday the bill is a federal issue and the city is working with its immigration reform committee to address local immigration issues.
Despite the bill's rejection, the group will continue to rally this week as planned, said organizer Maria Morales, also the local coordinator for Voces.
"This is just going to make us fight more, it's making us stronger," she said. "We're not going to give up."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.