DREAM Act backers at odds over how to pass it

December 13, 2010

Download Story
(Chip Mitchell/WBEZ)
Undocumented youths protest outside a Republican campaign office in Chicago this October.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the DREAM Act signed into law by year’s end. But supporters disagree on how to advance the measure.

The bill, passed by the U.S. House last week, would lay a path to citizenship for some undocumented youths who grew up in this country and attend college or join the military.

Getting it through the Senate would depend on Republicans so the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is urging calls and letters to the state’s Republican senator, Mark Kirk.

But some DREAM Act supporters call that effort a waste of time. “Kirk is not going to do anything independently of the Republican Party,” said immigrant-rights activist Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist, a church in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

“This is something that has to be worked out by leadership,” Coleman said. “Our pressure needs to go on Obama and it needs to go on the Democratic leadership, who’ve been playing us for two years, to finally come through and meet their promises.”

Coleman said that would mean making the DREAM Act part of any deal with Republicans about taxes.