USCCB Chairman Calls Senate Vote on Dream Act “A Setback, Not a Defeat”

December 22, 2010

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic)—Archbishop Jose Gomez, coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, today described the vote on the DREAM Act in the U.S. Senate as a “setback, not a defeat.”   The DREAM Act, short for the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act, failed to attain the sixty votes needed to end a filibuster on the bill, thus ending its prospects for passage in the 111th Congress.  The final vote count was 55 in favor of cloture, 41 against, five short of the needed number.

The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for young people who entered the country illegally with their parents as children or infants, provided they complete two years of higher education or two years of military service.   As many as 1.8 million young persons could have benefited from the enactment of the DREAM Act.

“With the passage of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives and with a majority of the U.S. Senate voting in favor, it is clear that a majority of Congress and of the American public support this common-sense humanitarian measure,” said Archbishop Gomez.  “I am confident that one day—sooner rather than later—the DREAM Act will become the law of the land.”

Archbishop Gomez extended thanks to those in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who supported the legislation.

“On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I express my gratitude to those elected officials who did the right thing and voted for this important bill,” he stated.

He added, “My heart goes out to the thousands of young people who would have been helped by the DREAM Act and were disappointed by the Senate action.  We will continue to work so that one day soon you will have the opportunity to become Americans.” 

Archbishop Gomez reaffirmed the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ commitment to safeguarding the basic human rights of immigrants and to enacting humane and just reforms of U.S. immigration law.   He added that the U.S. bishops had more work to do to educate Catholics on the issue of immigration and its importance to the mission of the Church and the future of the country.

“The U.S. Catholic bishops will continue to advocate for humane immigration reform, so that we can attain an immigration system that properly balances the need to protect our national sovereignty with our obligation to honor fundamental human rights.” 

“More education is needed to ensure that Catholics, as well as all Americans, fully understand the humanitarian consequences of a broken immigration system, especially on families,” he concluded.

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