Immigration advocates and undocumented residents in Queens were disappointed when the Senate blocked on Saturday a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was defeated in the Senate by a 55-41 vote, would have provided a path to legal status for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, if they enrolled in college or joined the military.
The bill would have needed 60 votes to pass.
Many students and advocates who watched the Senate vote live at the Jackson Heights headquarters of Make the Road New York, the city’s largest participatory immigrant organization, quickly turned sour as their hopes for a path to citizenship were crushed.
"I am one of the dreamers, and we have been fighting a lot of time for this and this is just so sad that it didn’t pass. It was a huge opportunity," said student Guadalupe Gracita.**
"I’m upset, I was crying, I was mad and I’m disappointed," said student Olga Reyes.** "This is my first year in college and I really was expecting for this to pass, so by the end of college I would actually have a job, actually have the job that I wanted and the career that I picked."
"I’m very, very angry and sad," said Natalia Aristizabal, a youth organizer for Make the Road New York. "We were short five votes, and it’s not just the Republicans, it’s also the Democrats."
Supporters said the bill would have helped thousands of undocumented students, who would have eventually been allowed to help other family members become citizens.
"It takes 12 years for that person to be able to even start that petitioning process to get their family members to become a citizen, so that’s 12 long years people would have to wait," said Javier Valdes, the deputy director of Make the Road New York. "But I think in those 12 long years people would be integrated into our economy and help move it forward."
Critics, however, called the bill a form of amnesty that would encourage illegal immigration.
Nevertheless, members of Make the Road New York said they plan to continue fighting for comprehensive immigration reform to aid the roughly 12 million undocumented residents in the United States.
**Guadalupe Gracita and Olga Reyes are members of Make the Road New York (MRNY).