li.jpgBay Area immigrant groups, community organizers and students are ratcheting up the pressure on local Congressional representatives to pass legislation that would allow some undocumented youths to remain in the country if they pursue higher education or military service.

Rallies and phone banks are being held in San Francisco and San Jose today to promote the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, in Congress by the end of the legislative session in January.

The bill would permit certain undocumented students who arrived in the U.S. as minors, have graduated from high school, and have completed at least two years of military service or study at a university to remain in the country.

A group is expected to gather at San Jose State University this afternoon for a rally in support of the bill, said Cesar Juarez, director of organizing for the group Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, or SIREN.

The idea is to encourage community members to call their elected representatives.
“It’s essential for us to be part of our democracy by letting our elected officials know we support the DREAM Act.”

Along with the 1 p.m. rally, SIREN is hosting two phone banks from noon to 3 p.m. today in which a few dozen people will be calling Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and other local legislators like Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, to encourage passage of the bill.

The phone banks will be held at San Jose State and at SIREN headquarters in San Jose, Juarez said.

A phone bank is also being held in San Francisco’s Chinatown today, according to Vanessa Coe, a community organizer for Asian Pacific Islander Equality and Chinese for Affirmative Action.

About 10 people were making calls this morning, and the group expected at least 30 people to participate over the course of the day, Coe said.

The group is “advocating as clean a DREAM Act as possible, with no amendments to water down the bill,” Coe said.

The phone banks and rallies are part of a series of events taking place this week in the Bay Area in support of the DREAM Act.

On Monday, rallies were held at Mission High School in San Francisco and outside McNerney’s field office in Pleasanton. More actions are planned for later in the week, according to organizers.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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