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DREAM Act’s fate dismays church leaders

 
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1:00 P.M. EST December 9, 2010 | SAN ANTONIO (UMNS)

Participants in a DREAM Act rally form a prayer circle in the foyer of the Hart Senate Building. UMNS photos by Samuel Ahn courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Participants in a DREAM Act rally form a prayer circle in the foyer of the
Hart Senate Building. UMNS photos by Samuel Ahn courtesy of the United
Methodist Board of Church and Society. View in Photo Gallery

United Methodist leaders are expressing disappointment at the failure of a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children, and who have lived in the country for five years, to gain conditional legal status after graduating from high school.

A filibuster prevented the DREAM (Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors) Act from coming to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote Dec. 18, effectively killing the legislation for this congressional session. The House of Representatives had already approved the bill in a 216-198 vote.

"Though the Senate failed to supply the necessary leadership to provide humane and effective solutions to the badly broken immigration system, the DREAM Act students have shown themselves to be our leaders not only for tomorrow, but for today as well,” said Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Desert Southwest Conference and chair of the denomination’s Interagency Immigration Task Force.

“Though the DREAM Act fell short,” said Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, “we applaud the leadership shown by the senators who did the right thing and voted to welcome and embrace the best and brightest of the immigrant community. At the same time, we are highly disappointed in the senators who chose politics over leadership, exclusion over justice.”

Bishop Minerva Carcaño is among the marchers going to the Senate office buildings.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño is among the marchers going
to the Senate office buildings. View in Photo Gallery

The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries’ internal task force on immigration also supported the bill. Thomas Kemper, the agency’s top executive, said the bill is in keeping with several resolutions approved by The United Methodist Church’s General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body.

“Among these are measures that would have mitigated the separation of families and children in deportation cases and provided means for young adult immigrations to move toward citizenship,“ he said.

MARCHA, the Hispanic caucus of the denomination, also expressed disappointment. “We are saddened by the negative vote of several senators who disregarded the talents and contributions of the young people who grew up in this country, did everything right and yet became the object of misinformation and discrimination.”

The DREAM Act would have created a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, completed two years of college or military service and met other requirements, including passing a criminal background check.

*Gilbert is a multimedia writer for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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