By JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ, cchavez@ElNuevoHerald.com
Three days after the House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act bill that would legalize thousands of undocumented students, dozens of young people from various organizations gathered in front of Miami Beach City Hall on Saturday to call public attention to the issue.
The event served also to call for the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, which forbids gays to serve openly in the nation's armed forces.
``To us it is important that these problems be resolved,'' said Juan Rodríguez, an MBA student who is the spokesman of Students Working for Equal Rights. ``We are at a critical point and we want support in Washington. There are millions of people in the country dependent upon the passing of these bills,'' said Rodríguez, 21.
The debate in Washington on the student bill suffered an unexpected delay in the Senate when Democratic senators approved a measure to postpone it.
The idea, according to sources familiar with the process, is to debate the original bill passed by the House Thursday on a 216-198 vote.
Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to vote on Don't Ask Don't Tell during the lame-duck period before the new Congress takes over next year.
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 58 percent of Americans support gays serving openly in the armed forces. Twenty-seven percent oppose gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces, while 16 percent is undecided. The poll was performed between Nov. 4 and 7 on a sample of 1,255 adult Americans.
In Miami, community representatives and members of the groups VotoLatino, SAVE Dade and S.W.E.R., among others, joined their voices to appeal to the public conscience on the importance of these issues.
Felipe Matos, 24, a student at St. Thomas University, asked to not only exert political maturity but also to put aside discrimination.
``We are fighting to change the issues that concern us,'' said Matos, who is of Brazilian origin.
David Valk, a SAVE Dade community organizer, said the purpose of the mobilization and efforts made in Washington is to open the doors to all.
``This is the battle of my life, the movement of our generation -- to bring equality of access and opportunity to all people,'' Walk said.
Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower was among the attendees at Saturday afternoon demonstrations.
``It's very important for the kids to go to school and get an education,'' Herrera said. ``The other issue is a matter of human rights.''