Despite majority support for the DREAM Act in the House, the Senate, and the American public, Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, to a member, voted against the bill, which was procedurally blocked from moving forward by a filibuster in the Senate on Saturday.Â The DREAM Act would allow students who were brought to this country at a young age a means to apply for immigration status after attending two years of college or serving in the military.
Not one of our Nebraska members of Congress voted for the DREAM Act in critical votes these past weeks, leaving stranded youth who know no other home and who dream of contributing to our country. These are young leaders who have done nothing wrong and everything right. It is a key justice issue of our day, not to mention a lost opportunity for Nebraska’s future. In an economic recession, this is a vote to squander an important human asset. Not only did this vote deny these youth a way forward but it has denied the rest of us future professionals who are dedicated to their Nebraska home, young entrepreneurs ready to help be a part of job creation and economic recovery.
Imagine being 18 years old, eager to contribute to the country you’ve grown up in, but instead facing indefinite legal limbo. Imagine being 28 years old, after 10 years of fighting for this legislation, only to face another delay and further uncertainty. And now imagine the home-grown talents that means we’ve turned away.
To the youth around the country whose dreams were once again forestalled this weekend, we salute you for your incredible courage. Dreamers and their friends have organized tirelessly over the past years. One memorable student advocate in Nebraska walked 200 miles from O’Neill to the Capitol, and thousands more across the state and country made their voices heard here and in Washington, D.C. As Dreamers chanted one last time in the U.S. Senate atrium after Saturday’s vote: “How do you feel? Motivated, dedicated, DOWNRIGHT EDUCATED! You can check us out!” Their leadership and civic engagement is an inspiration to us all and represents the best of who we are as a nation. We know you are picking up the pieces and re-committing to the next steps in the fight for justice and for rational immigration reform that benefits all of America.
While DREAM may have encountered another hurdle, it is only a matter of time before Congress realizes that we can no longer afford to delay common-sense immigration reform that creates a system we can be proud of and that moves our communities and economy forward.