The U.S. Senate fell short of the votes needed to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which had the vocal support of many Georgetown students and administrators.
The DREAM Act would have provided undocumented youths with a green card and path to citizenship through completing either a college degree or two years of military service.
The House voted 216-198 in favor of the bill on Dec. 8, but a Senate filibuster succeeded in barring passage of the bill Saturday.
Juan Gomez (MSB ’11), an undocumented student from Colombia, was disheartened by Saturday’s events.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing,” he said. “[But] I understood it was unlikely to pass.”
Gomez appealed his deportation from the United States in 1999 and received a private bill allowing him to stay in the country for an extended period of time. But other undocumented students do not necessarily have the same legal protection. There are a handful of undocumented students at Georgetown, according to Gomez.
The DREAM Act would have allowed Georgetown’s undocumented students to apply for a six-year process to gain citizenship.
The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan de Georgetown had been pushing Congress and students to support the DREAM Act, according to Alberto Morales, co-chair of MEChA. In their largest effort, members spent time at phone banks calling senators. On campus, MEChA sought to boost awareness and encouraged students to call senators in support of the act.
The university’s administration has also been advocating heavily for passage of the DREAM Act, according to Scott Fleming, associate vice president for federal relations.
Gomez said that the administration has been very supportive of undocumented students. Fleming reached out to Gomez and others, and University President John J. DeGioia spoke out in favor of the DREAM Act on their behalf.
“They understand that it’s a tough issue for these students, and they’ve been behind it the whole way,” Gomez said.
Earlier this month, DeGioia advocated for the act on WAMU, a D.C.-based radio station.
“As a university in the heart of the nation’s capital, working to understand the impacts of globalization and the responsibilities we have in a new global context, it is our job, as educators, to support all of our students, including those who were born abroad, and to encourage passage of this legislation,” he said on the show.
Gomez attributed the Senate block in part to election politics.
“I don’t think the Republicans wanted the Democrats to claim this as a victory,” he said.
Gomez said that the passage of the act could have provided the Democrats with allies amongst the growing immigrant population in the United States.
orales said that MEChA was frustrated but would not give up on the DREAM Act.
“We still have to keep fighting harder,” he said. “We’re not going to give up that easily.”