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March 1, 2015

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Students, activists rally after DREAM Act shot down


Leila Navidi

Derek Washington cheers during a rally Sept. 21, 2010, in downtown Las Vegas to support the DREAM Act.

DREAM Act Rally

Adelia Vazquez, center, 17, a senior at Desert Pines High School, cheers during a rally Tuesday in downtown Las Vegas to support the DREAM Act. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

Standing above a crowd of protestors outside the Lloyd George Federal Building, 18-year-old Claudia Anaya was mid-sentence when she suddenly began to cry.

For a moment, the crowd that had previously been shouting through bullhorns and eliciting honks from passing motorists fell silent.

Gathering herself, Anaya brought the bullhorn speaker to her mouth and finished her sentence.

“This hurts so much inside. I’ve been fighting so hard for this,” she said. “We need this now. Don’t let people stay home. We need to fill this whole street up with everybody.”

Anaya was one of the 50 students and activists who marched from the Las Vegas Academy to the federal building Tuesday to voice their frustration toward Republican politicians who refused debate on the DREAM Act and the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military.

The DREAM Act would offer citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the country as children and enroll in college or enlist in the military. The act, as well as a proposed repeal to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bans homosexuals from openly serving in the military, were amendments to the military spending bill that was shot down Tuesday by Republicans.

Anaya, who was born in Mexico and came to America as a child, was directly impacted by Tuesday’s vote against the defense bill. She had hopes of attending UNLV on scholarship but now won’t be able to.

“We finally had something. We could have done something about it, but it was just shut down,” she said. “My heart sinks. I told my mom I thought this would go through; we were doing so much.”

Michael Flores, an activist with the Las Vegas-based Progress NowNevada, Vincenta Montoya, an immigration attorney, and Isaac Barron, a high school teacher, organized the rally. They had originally planned to use the demonstration as a public demand for the passage of the DREAM Act.

But after news of the Senate’s derailing of the bill and its included amendments, the rally took on a new shape: Thanking those who helped the cause and demanding that the DREAM Act not become a standalone bill.

“If the DREAM act is a standalone bill, it dies. It’s not going anywhere,” Montoya said.

Flores said he was “disheartened” after watching the Senate action on C-SPAN. He said his hope for the passage of the bill began to dissipate after Sen. John McCain spoke out against the included amendments.

“I knew we were in trouble,” Flores said.

Montoya voiced her disapproval of Senate Republicans while commending Sen. Harry Reid for trying to pass the DREAM Act.

“He literally was putting his career on the line,” she said. “Election day is coming soon, and we are not going to forget who helped us and who did not help us.”

At about 4:15 p.m., the crowd proceeded up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, between Bridger and Clark avenues, with homemade signs and an American flag . The demonstrators shouted, “Together. United. We’ll never be divided” and “Ensign. Escuchas. Estamos en la lucha,” roughly translating to, “Ensign. Listen. We’re in the fight.”

Sen. John Ensign was one of the senators who voted against passage of the defense bill.

Near the end of the rally, Flores, Montoya and others spoke, encouraging the crowd to call their senators and demand that action be taken on the DREAM Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

A Spanish teacher from the West Career and Technical Academy, Elizabeth Campbell, said many of her students would benefit from passage of the DREAM Act.

“When you think about kids who have been here five years or more, they don’t have a life to go back to anywhere else,” Campbell said. “We’ve already invested thousands of dollars in these kids’ education; let them work. Let them pay back. They’re American.”

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  1. The Party of Harry Truman appears to be in a desperate race to shoot themselves in the foot more times than the Party of Herbert Hoover in advance of the mid-term elections...don't ask, don't tell and the dream act are all political hot potatoes that the Sharron Angles of the world will pounce upon like ducks on junebugs.

  2. This is one of the few issues surrounding illegal immigrants that gives me pause for thought. There is some merit to the argument that the children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for the sins of the parents.

    The problem I have with the DREAM act is that if other laws prohibiting the hiring of illegals are not enforced then this will be an even larger inducement for further illegal immigration.

    Harry Reid has proposed comprehensive immigration reform that is predicated upon tight border security and strict enforcement of hiring laws. His proposal also included a "path to citizenship" for those who are already here illegally. He explicitly stated that none of his proposal could be passed without stopping the flow of illegal immigrants first.

    This act by Harry directly contradicts his proposal and is therefore a blatant political act rather than one of humanitarianism.

    The decline of our local population, of both legal and illegal residents, proves that the inability of finding work will have a direct, and significant impact upon illegal immigration.

    Harry Reid MUST be voted out of office so real immigration controls can be put in place.

  3. "'He (Senator Reid) literally was putting his career on the line,' she said. 'Election day is coming soon, and we are not going to forget who helped us and who did not help us.'"

    Just another example why the Republican Party is doomed.

    They want to fall back on history only, in that what happened in 1994 in the Senate and the House taken over by their party, will happen again. Because the party in power loses seats.

    But they do nothing to make sure history is on their side. The Republicans, besides conducting a civil war amongst themselves and glorifying idiots like Newt Gingrich and Sara Palin, happily vote no on just about everything. In this instance, for 48 years in a row, a defense bill has always been approved. The Republican Party voted it down, rejecting and shunning our armed fighting men. Men who are the tip of the spear and deserve respect.

    As a retired Navy veteran, I have always said the Republican Party uses us as political pawns. Republicans don't understand diplomacy. They only understand starting a war. We're cannon fodder for their aims of achieving power, glory, money and greed. This is why I have absolutely no respect for Republicans. Because they take the easy way out, using us to manipulate what they want. They are users and takers...and give nothing in return...except empty words and...coffins.

    Enough. No more of their nonsense. Nevada, and the United States, have been screwed by them over and over and over and over yet again. Bush and his entire administration were a very good example of incompetence, ineffectiveness and uncaringness.

    Because they don't serve people. They serve themselves.

    In November, my vote goes Democrat for everything at the election booth. Because every one of them is pretty much as useless as mammaries on a mushroom.

    And after we get rid of them, we're not done. Ensign is next to get rid of...either impeach, vote out, slapped out by a Senate ethics committee and/or handcuffed and apprehended for felony corruption charges...don't matter...just so long as he's gone. Because, as of right now, he has the distinction of being in charge of ALL useless politicians in Nevada. I remind everyone that he voted no on this bill...along with just about everything so far. He has voted no so much, even on the most innocent bills, and bills that Republicans created, that I am very sure Senator Ensign has no earthly clue what the other button says or what other options for votes are...just NO...NO...that's all he knows. He serves himself. Not Nevadans.

  4. Illegal is Illegal. Can we agree on this? Where in the world can a person or persons protest openly and loudly, and the person or persons are not a legal resident of the country? I mean, the person or persons entired the country illegal, or are residing in the country illegal and the person or persons are scream for rights like they are legal residents! Only in America. This is wrong, this send the wrong message. This is why the moderate segment of America have a movement (TEA Party) protesting and replacing the local incumbents and the Washington incumbents because the people in office have forgotten or just refuse to acknowledge the law and act to enforce the law. Wrong is Wrong. Illegal is Illegal. Children from good homes know Right from Wrong. This is the kind of issue that will replace Harry Reid if [He]can no longer see the difference from Right and Wrong. Illegal is Illegal. Once you make the Illegal person legal through a circumventing process then the Illegal who you make legal will have no respect for the laws or an understanding of what their responsibility are as a citizen. Illegal is Illegal, Wrong is Wrong. The people who understand this are the ones active and voting this year and making a difference.

  5. I served with many "non-citizens" in the Marine Corps, and they were some the best "Americans" I have had the honor to know. They believe in the ideals and values of this country, and they put on the uniform to demonstrate just how much they believe. I'm almost certain most of the people who oppose the DREAM Act can not say the same.

    But keep putting those ridiculous stickers on your cars, and keep advocating for wars you'd never let your children fight, because as I'm sure you know, your kids are simply too good to be in the military.

    The day this country became less about "the best man for the job, no matter where he came from," and more about "I was born here, so I'm entitled," was the day we began our decline.

  6. Go to Mexico as a criminal invader and see what happens to you!

    Legal Foreigners in the military is not the problem, I knew quite a few. Criminal invaders can be a large security problem.

  7. "i dont remember irish, and european immigrants DEMANDING citizenship when they arrived, they WORKED for it."-gbigs

    This is exactly what the DREAM Act encourages people to do. To earn their citizenship through military service and through the pursuit of higher education.

  8. doutl13, I understand that, but if able bodied men and women are willing to "earn" their citizenship through the means of military service, which last time I checked and participated in, was no easy welfare service, why not give them that opportunity if they are in this country already?

    I'm not sure if you are aware of Sgt. Rafael Peralta's story, if not, I'd encourage you to read up about him. He was born in Mexico City, and came here with his family as a minor, many believe as an "illegal." He received the Navy Cross posthumously for his actions in Iraq, a medal second only to the Medal of Honor. Some believe his questionable immigration status played a part in the decision to award him the Navy Cross instead of the Medal of Honor.

    I'd take a Sgt. Peralta over 1000 spoiled born here Americans any day. He embodied the American system of values so many people speak of in error.

  9. I wasn't sure how I felt about this, but after reading Strykertyme's comments, I agree with him. Specifically, this comment:

    if able bodied men and women are willing to "earn" their citizenship through the means of military service, which last time I checked and participated in, was no easy welfare service, why not give them that opportunity if they are in this country already?