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Halfway to a DREAM

December 9, 2010, 11:51 am | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Membership in Congress comes with enormous responsibilities. Some decisions, such as this week’s vote on the DREAM Act, have profound effects on the futures of people Senators and Representatives will never meet or hear about — people like Bernard Pastor, an 18-year-old honor student who came to America at age three and now faces deportation from the country in which he has grown up and thrived, punishment for a violation which he had no say in committing. Simply put, what’s at stake is whether thousands of upstanding, hardworking young people who have grown up in the US will have access to the American dream, or whether they’ll be trapped in limbo by a broken immigration system that punishes them for violations committed by their parents.

When opportunities arise for Congress to make a real difference in the lives of young people like Bernard, the faith community takes action. We rally in communities across the country. We speak out in the media. We write letters and make phone calls to Capitol Hill. We visit Members to plea, to reason, and to confront them when necessary. We lift up the stories of those who will bear the brunt or reap the fruit of the decisions made by Congress, and we pray, fervently and continually.

Sometimes it works. Yesterday was one of those days. To its great credit, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a 216-198 margin. A Senate vote awaits next week, and right now it’s uncertain whether there will be enough votes to break a Republican filibuster and give tens of thousands of young men and women a fair shot at earning legal status and eventual citizenship. The House has lived up to the enormous responsibility of ensuring that our nation’s immigration policy is an implement of opportunity, not oppression, for talented, hardworking young immigrants. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will follow suit. As we wait, the faith community’s intensive efforts to convince the Upper Chamber will continue.

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