by Félix Pérez/image above: President Obama visits fasters
Despite the efforts of people in cities and towns across America, Congress did not pass comprehensive immigration reform this past year. Undeterred, millions of DREAMer students, their families and educators remain confident Congress will act this coming year because of unrelenting pressure and the will of the American people.
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Educators often witness the fears and struggles of DREAMer students, who have known no other country and who are American in every way — from their penchant for video games and electronic gadgetry to their preference for hamburgers and pizza.
Loretta Harper, a Las Vegas school counselor, offered an upbeat assessment for immigration reform in 2014.
I’m very hopeful that Congress will act because they will be bombarded with phone calls and letters. I always tell my DREAMers to stay positive, stay focused, never give up. Immigration reform will com, said Harper.
DREAMer advocates say it is only a matter of time before the House acts in accordance with the sentiment of Americans. Poll after poll has shown 60-70 percent of U.S. residents support allowing immigrants to become citizens if they meet certain requirements. Among those aspiring Americans are 2 million DREAMer students, 60,000 of whom graduate from U.S. high schools each year.
Harper, who helped raise money this year for DREAMer scholarships, said her students are the source of her motivation. “I work with DREAMers who are salutatorians, valedictorians and high achievers. Immigration reform is very important, because I see these high achievers not being able to go to college or pursue a career.”
Helping to keep up the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team is Fast for Families, which staged a six-week fast on the National Mall that concluded just before Christmas. The original group fasted for 22 days until they were medically unable to continue. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited and prayed with the fasters.
Others around the country, including 19 staff members of the National Education Association, fasted for 24 hours each. Most recently, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Corey Booker, both of New Jersey, fasted. Other members of Congress who have engaged in a 24-hour fast included Representatives Steve Cohen, Tenn., Joe Garcia, Fla., Joe Kennedy, Mass., James McGovern, Mass., Janice Schakowsky, Ill., Jackie Speier, Calif., and Juan Vargas, Calif.
President Obama and several members of Congess have said there are enough votes in the House to pass a bill. Speaker Boehner, however, has been unwilling to bring a bill to the floor.
Harper said she views the 2014 midterm elections as another leverage point to bring about reform. “It’s important that we get out and support candidates who support comprehensive immigration reform. DREAMer students may not be able to vote, but they can make phone calls, knock on doors and register people to vote. We are not going to stop.”