DREAM Act fails to move forward. What now?

Words from Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.

On Saturday, December 18th, the U.S. Senate failed to get the 60 votes necessary to move forward on the DREAM Act, a piece of immigration legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth in this country. Where do we go from here?

Saturday's vote may have been a legislative setback but it was not a defeat for our movement.  We won a majority of votes in both the House and the Senate.  But because of a Republican filibuster we needed 60 votes to pass DREAM and we fell short.

We thank those who did the right thing and voted for DREAM.  But for the majority of Republicans and the handful of Democrats who voted against the best and the brightest of the Latino, Asian and immigrant communities, we know who you are, and we will never forget.  Today you told young people who grew up in America, who did nothing wrong and everything right, that their talents and contributions are neither welcome nor respected.

As disappointed as we are in those who slammed the door of opportunity on talented young people who are Americans in all but paperwork, we are buoyed by the nationwide outpouring of support for this cause, the unprecedented mobilization in support of DREAM, and the support from allies from the faith, labor, education, civil rights, military, law enforcement, local elected officials, and business communities.

This mobilization was and is led by the tens of thousands of DREAMers, the brave women and men who organized in their local communities to insist on making their DREAM come true, and by the hundreds who came to Washington DC over the past few months to serve notice that they are going to keep fighting and keep getting stronger until justice is done.  In addition, our campaign generated millions of calls and faxes and thousands of local events in every state.  This builds on the unprecedented mobilization of immigrant voters in the 2010 election, which resulted in anti-immigrant candidates being defeated and the Democrats maintaining control of the Senate.  All of which builds on years of fighting, organizing, mobilizing and educating which is building for our movement political power and policy influence as never before.

Where do we go from here?

We will continue fighting, organizing, mobilizing and educating.  We will continue to build an ever more powerful movement.  We will continue to conduct citizenship drives, voter registration campaigns and voter mobilization efforts.  We will continue to organize and build stronger local efforts in local communities throughout America.  We will continue to speak up and speak out for immigrant youth, for immigrant families, for immigration reforms at all levels that embody the best of our ideals rather than the worst of our fears.  We will continue to fight for policies that are simultaneously humane and practical, that reflects our values and serves our interests, that combines the common good with common sense.  We will fight for an immigration system that meets our nation’s ideals and serves our nation’s values.

Wherever we fight and whatever the specific battle, what unites us is that we are part of a growing movement that is building power to win good policy. We may not have won this battle, but when it comes to winning the war between those who favor mass deportation and those who favor earned citizenship, it’s a not a matter of if we win, but a matter of when.