Activists held back their gasps then wept in the Senate Gallery Saturday morning as one by one members who were considered “on the fence” regarding the DREAM Act, (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), fell on the wrong side of history.
A vote of 55-41 in favor of closing debate on the bill was five short of what was needed to clear a path for passage for the historic legislation. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is deeply saddened by the lack of courage by those who voted against the desire of their constituents to give undocumented youth, who have grown up in the United States, the means to step out of the shadows, pursue education, and accomplish their goals.
Even more disappointing are the female senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kay Hagan (D-NC), who failed to acknowledge the reality of women immigrants in their communities and instead chose to support policies that tear families apart.
Not only does educational attainment give Latinas access to information, resources and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions, but it also enhances their central role in their families and communities. Women immigrants are the backbone of their family as reflected by recent data:
• U.S. Census Bureau indicates more than half of all immigrants are women.
• New America Media identified a trend of immigrant women as primary breadwinners and family caretakers.
• Data also shows that immigrant women are often the ones to initiate the citizenship process for their families.
Unfortunately, current family immigration policies create tremendous backlogs, particularly among Asian & Pacific Islanders immigrants, destroying the lives of women and families in the process.
Despite the devastating loss, NLIRH offers our appreciation to all those who took a principled stand on DREAM this session, including Republican senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), Bob Bennett (R-UT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Everyone, including immigrants, deserves to live free from discrimination, oppression and violence in all forms. That’s why we will forge ahead with our work with the Administration and lawmakers toward the goal of true comprehensive immigration reform for immigrant women and their families.