A group of college students gathered at the state Capitol Monday morning to garner support for the DREAM Act.
Calling themselves the Dream Army, the students are on a mission to persuade Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to vote for the bill, said Michael Nazario, 21, an undocumented Phoenix College student at the Capitol.
The DREAM Act is attached to a defense-funding bill as an amendment, which the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on Tuesday afternoon. Also included in the bill is a provision to eliminate the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which bans gays from openly serving in the military.
The bill, however, needs 60 votes in order to override a filibuster.
As drafted, the DREAM Act will create a path to citizenship for undocumented students who have been in the country for five consecutive years, have graduated high school and plan to go to college or enlist in the military.
Nazario said they are encouraging everyone who supports their cause to call key senators, specifically McCain, to convince them to vote for the bill.
“Sen. McCain is our target,” Nazario said at a press conference.
McCain, who in the past has sponsored the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, has shied away from it this time around.
McCain said last Thursday on the Senate floor that the DREAM Act doesn’t belong on the defense bill.
He has said that he will vote against the bill because the DREAM Act has nothing to do with national security.
“Sen. McCain has abandoned the youth,” said Dulce Matuz, policy adviser for the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and an ASU graduate student.
There are two aspects to the DREAM Act, said Israel Araujo, 22, a Mesa Community College alumnus and president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, at Monday’s press conference.
“There is the military aspect and the educational aspect, and we’re here for the military aspect,” Araujo said.
Undocumented students like Nazario have tried to enlist in the military but have been denied because of lack of proper documentation, he said.
“They have nothing to do with national defense,” McCain said in the Senate regarding the amendments to the bill, including the DREAM Act.
Matuz said McCain is lying when he says that the DREAM Act has nothing to with the military.
Matuz said when there are thousands of undocumented students who want to serve in the military, the DREAM Act goes hand-in-hand with it.
Nazario said they might go to Washington, D.C. sometime soon to put pressure on Congress to get the bill passed.
The same students have been camping outside of McCain’s office since Thursday afternoon on the corners of 16th Street and Missouri Road.
“We’re planning on staying out here until McCain votes for the DREAM Act,” Nazario said.
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