Over the past five days, we've asked you and urged you to contact your senators in support of the DREAM Act -- legislation that creates a pathway to legalization for high-achieving undocumented youth. With your help in this movement for immigrant justice, we generated more faxes, calls, and letters than ever before. We made it clear to elected officials that as people of faith, we care deeply about these kids and their futures.
However, the votes didn't line up in our favor today. The 60 votes necessary to move the National Defense Authorization Act bill forward (which would have included the DREAM Act as an amendment) did not materialize. The 56-43 vote fell mostly along party lines. Without 60 votes to proceed, the DREAM Act does not move forward.
Today was a setback, not a failure, for our effort. There is still time to move the DREAM Act forward after the November elections, before this Congress ends, although the atmosphere of hyper-partisanship in the Senate remains an obstacle. We are again reminded that although the DREAM Act is an important part of the solution, we must continue to focus on comprehensive immigration reform legislation to provide the necessary relief to as many individuals as possible through fixing our current system.
Finally, as advocates who come to this work grounded in our faith, we have an opportunity. We have the opportunity to choose hope. We can be angry, bitter, cynical, and even furious for today. But tomorrow, we move forward. We pick ourselves back up, dust off the dirt of despair, and keep at it. There are vigils to attend, actions to plan, sermons to write, and young people to comfort. We can be a witness and comfort to our friends, colleagues, and neighbors who are burned out and depressed. In the timeless words of Martin Luther King Jr., "We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."
Join me this week in prayer for the DREAMers, for the families who support those who dream, and for strength on the way forward.
Allison Johnson is the campaign coordinator of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.