Vote on illegal-immigrant students bill possible this week

A bill that would give some students who are in the country illegally a chance at legal residency may go to a vote this week in Congress, immigration activists say.

House legislators could vote on the Development, Relief and Education for Minor Aliens Act as early as Monday. Sen. Harry Reid plans to introduce the act as a stand-alone bill during the lame duck session of Congress.

In response, activists pushing for passage of the bill are holding marches, hunger strikes, legislative visits and other events Monday across the country, including Orange County.

Supporters plan to start a rally at 6 a.m. on a bridge on top of I-5 in Santa Ana, near Main and Santa Clara streets. Students planned to wear caps and gowns and hold banners in support of the DREAM act.

In Anaheim, faith and community leaders are scheduled to march at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday from St. Boniface Catholic Church to Anaheim High School for a rally to urge senators to support the bill.

“Thousands of hard-working young people who were brought to the United States as infants or children can now be locked up in federal detention centers and deported to a country they’ve never known,” said a written statement by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of Orange County.

“The DREAM Act could stop the injustice by giving students who have grown up and graduated high school in the United States the opportunity to earn legal status through college or military service,” the group wrote. “As people of faith, we support the DREAM Act because we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children.”

Immigrant right’s advocates and anti-illegal immigration activists,such as NumbersUSA made their last push during the Thanksgiving Holiday, urging their members to send faxes and make calls to Congress members who were still on the fence about the issue.

The bill’s opponents call it a provisional amnesty, stating that it’s flawed and contains major loopholes. Read a story about the arguments for and against the bill.

The DREAM Act would allow students who are in the country illegally and who have finished at least two years of college or military service to apply for legal residency. The bill would also protect them from deportation and make them eligible for student loans and federal work study programs.

Students would need to have lived here at least five years before the bill was enacted into law and to have arrived before they were 16. Applicants would also need to be younger than 36.