This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Organizers in support of the DREAM Act are calling senators to help get the 60 votes needed to pass the much-anticipated federal bill. After reaching the 10,000 phone-call mark on Thursday, activists now hope to make 5,000 more before the vote.
Just this week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced that he would attach the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Another rider on the bill would begin a gradual repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy within the military.
At the press conference, Reid said:
I think it’s really important that we move forward in this legislation, I tried to work on — I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform — I’ve tried to. I’ve tried so very very hard. I tried different iterations of this, but those Republicans we had in the last Congress have left us.
The DREAM Act is really important. […] That’s what the DREAM Act is all about: kids who grew up as Americans should be able to get their green cards after they go to college or serve in the military. So these are the two amendments ["don’t ask don’t tell" and DREAM Act] that I’ve told Senator McConnell that I think are essential to the defense authorization bill. I hope they let us move to it.
A message on DREAMActivist.org provides the phone numbers and names of the senators the group identified as important to contact.
A vote is expected next Tuesday. Senator John McCain, who previously cosponsored DREAM Act legislation, said he would block the bill. President Obama has pledged his support for the DREAM Act. Obama noted that several Republicans who previously supported the DREAM Act have "backed away from that vote." Republicans argue that including the DREAM Act on a defense appropriations bill needlessly politicizes it. As midterm elections near, activists may have the leverage needed to pass a bill that has previously stalled in Congress.