They’re calling them the Most Wanted.
Several of the nation’s leading Hispanic organizations say they are targeting 10 U.S. senators who, they say, have described themselves as undecided about the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented youth who meet certain criteria with a path to legalization.
The “Most Wanted” list includes both Democrats and Republicans.
The measure, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month, but was tabled in the Senate as Democrats decided they needed to muster more support to have any chance of passage there.
In a statement, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, or NHLA, said: “These senators are of particular interest to NHLA because of their positive voting record for the DREAM Act as well as the large Hispanic populations in their states."
"On principle and in the interest of their significant Hispanic constituency, NHLA expects these senators to stand with the students and for America’s future.”
The senators are: Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, George LeMieux of Florida, and Richard Lugar of Indiana.
DREAM Act supporters say that undocumented youth must not be penalized for decisions made by their parents. They say that it is wasted potential to provide an education to the tens of thousands of undocumented youth through high school, then – as most states do – charge them out-of-state college tuition and keep higher education out of their reach.
Opponents of the measure argue that it rewards law-breakers, and is just a form of amnesty. They say it is wrong for a legal resident or U.S. citizen to lose a college classroom slot to an undocumented student.
“In the next few days we will find out if these 10 senators are DREAM-Makers or DREAM-Busters,” said NHLA chair Lillian Rodríguez-López. “Each of them has either voted for the DREAM Act in the past, supported comprehensive immigration reform, or represents large populations of Hispanics. And each of them has the power to make thousands of dreams come true before this Congress adjourns.”
NHLA is a coalition of organizations that includes the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, among others.
The DREAM Act calls for giving undocumented youth conditional legal status if they are of good moral character, came to the United States before the age of 16, have a high school diploma or its equivalency, and commit to attending college or being in the military for at least two years.
Eventually, if they abide by a certain set of criteria, they would be eligible to apply for U.S. permanent residency.
Latino immigration advocacy groups say some of the "Most Wanted" senators have privately expressed support for the DREAM Act, and others have suggested they will not vote for it, but have yet to make public statements.
The coalition’s position is, said NHLA communications advisor, Estuardo Rodríguez: “If you’re going to keep presenting yourself as being on the fence, then we will keep knocking on your door.”