Immigration rally in favor of DREAM Act tries to prove people power stronger than politics
At 4 p.m. today, a rally will be held in support of the DREAM Act, a proposal that would allow select undocumented students who've lived in America for at least five years and graduate from a U.S. high school the chance to earn legal residency status. The measure faces steep obstacles -- but Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition communications director Alan Kaplan thinks it's actually got a shot if people rise up to back it.
Senate Majority president Harry Reid has pledged to introduce the DREAM Act as an amendment to a major defense bill this week. Peter Schrag, author of Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, rates the odds of this tactic succeeding at slim to none in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published earlier today. Kaplan, though, is more optimistic.
"There's no doubt the issue is politicized," Kaplan acknowledges. "But I do think that of all the things they're going to propose, it's the most common-sense one, and the most likely to pass."
Hence, the 4 p.m. rally at North High School, which will feature politicians such as Representative Joe Miklosi and Denver City Council member Paul Lopez, as well as teachers, students and folks from assorted pro-immigrant organizations "talking about the DREAM Act and what it's going to mean for Colorado," Kaplan says.
Right now, immigration is a hot topic in the governor's race, with the American Constitution Party's Tom Tancredo and Republican nominee Dan Maes talking up get-tough policies along the lines of a controversial measure passed in Arizona earlier this year. But Kaplan doubts that a clone of that legislation is in Colorado's future.
"I don't think Colorado is going to go in that direction, because the state already has some of the most restrictive immigration laws on the books," he allows. "I do think political candidates are trying to make a lot of hay with the immigration issue, but it hasn't played for them before. In 2006 and 2008, we had patterns of politicians trying to exploit immigration as a possible wedge issue, and it didn't work -- and I don't think it's going to work now.
"Most voters don't consider it to be one of their top issues, and most of them are overall very supportive of some form of immigration reform. The last national poll I saw showed 60 to 70 percent support for immigration reform that treats people humanely."
Kaplan doesn't want to give a firm prediction about turnout for today's rally, but he expects that several hundred people will turn up. "A lot of youth will be at the event giving testimonials about their experiences," he points out, "and it's definitely worth it to hear what these kids have to say. It really puts things in perspective for me, and for most people."
Page down to see the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition release on the event, with all the pertinent details: