By Kirk Ross
Supporters of a measure they say could clear a path to citizenship for 51,000 young people in North Carolina expressed outrage this weekend over Sen. Kay Haganâ€™s vote against the DREAM Act.
â€œShe was the 41st vote, the deciding vote,â€ said Domenic Powell, a member of the NC DREAM Team, a statewide student group lobbying in support of the bill. â€œOur senator killed the DREAM Act.â€
The bill would have allowed people who came to the U.S. as children an opportunity to become citizens if they went to college or chose to serve in the military. DREAM Act supporters say 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year.
In a statement after Saturdayâ€™s vote, Hagan said, â€œI believe the DREAM Act should be considered in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, not as a stand-alone bill. Republicans and Democrats need to work together to achieve practical, bipartisan immigration reform that will address the problem of illegal immigration at its core.â€
Powell said many of the students and others heâ€™s talked to throughout the state consider the vote a personal attack on the immigrant community in North Carolina.
â€œShe does not have my vote anymore,â€ said Ilana Dubester, who has worked with several local and state Latino advocacy organizations. Itâ€™s a sentiment, she said, shared by many in the community.
Dubester praised the young people â€“ â€œthe dreamersâ€ â€“ for their ability to get the bill through the House this year after an eight-year battle. She said Haganâ€™s refusal to even meet with them was particularly infuriating.
â€œItâ€™s unconscionable to me that she really wouldnâ€™t give them the time of day,â€ she said.
Powell said going forward there will be a continued focus on assuring access to the stateâ€™s community colleges as well as watching what comes out of the new GOP-dominated General Assembly.