Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, Introduces Open Letter Written by Dolores Huerta to Senator John. McCain

WASHINGTON, DC - For the past eleven days, student supporters of the DREAM Act have been fasting outside of Republican Senator John McCain’s Phoenix, Arizona district office in support of passage of the DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act).

Dolores Huerta, civil rights icon and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, has recently joined the group’s water-only fast in support of the DREAM Act. She joined students Dulce Juarez and Celso Mireles, as well as the mother of a DREAM Act student Rosa Marta Soto. Together, the group hand delivered an open letter to Senator McCain, urging the Senator and other legislators to listen to the overwhelming will of the American public and vote Yes on the DREAM Act.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, calls on the public to read an open letter to Senator McCain written by civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, and on the Senate to pass the DREAM Act:

"Following the historic and courageous House vote to pass the urgently needed DREAM Act, the Senate has postponed its vote because there are an insufficient number of senators willing to permit a vote on DREAM. Any senators who lack the courage to do the right thing and allow a vote on this important legislation need look no further than the legendary Dolores Huerta, who together with many students across the country, is engaged in a fast to convince the Senate to pass the DREAM Act. There is ample bravery among these activists to close the courage deficit in Washington and pass the DREAM Act."

Please read Dolores Huerta's open letter to Arizona's Senator John McCain:

Dear Senator McCain:

You stood shoulder to shoulder with me and Cesar Chavez’s family at the unveiling of the official commemorative postal stamp in honor of Cesar Chavez. We need you to live up to the legacy of justice you represented in that press conference. Vote to bring the DREAM Act to the Senate floor, and vote to pass DREAM Act into law.

Seventy percent of the people in the United States support the DREAM ACT. Do the will of the American public. As Cesar Chavez often said, "It Can Be Done." . Throughout your distinguished career, Senator, you have continually identified with the legacy of Cesar Chavez, a native son of your own state of Arizona.

As sponsor and chief spokesperson for SB164 the "Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act" for the past decade. You invoked Cesar Chavez’s passions for justice and education as if they were your own. You continuously identified with his legacy.

You said:

"Mr. Chavez’s legacy is an inspiration to us all and he will be remembered for helping Americans to transcend distinctions of experience and share equally in the rights and responsibilities of freedom. It is important that we honor his struggle..."

"Cesar Chavez, an Arizonan born in Yuma, was the son of migrant farm workers…. His efforts on behalf of some of the most oppressed individuals in our society are an inspiration, and through his work he made America a bigger and better nation.

And quoted Cesar’s words:

"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."

The young DREAM Act students with whom I am fasting believe that you can once again stand tall with independence and conviction, and that you will continue Cesar Chavez’s legacy by bringing justice to the DREAM students.

The benefits of this bill for our country are great. There will be educated professionals contributing to the American economy. They will bring in billions of revenue from taxes and will help us create jobs. The Congressional Budget Office reports that DREAM Act students would help cut the federal deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years and would generate $2.4 billion in revenue. A UCLA study estimated this revenue number would be $3.6 trillion over a forty year span.

For children whose only home has been the United States and never committed a crime, you can offer your hand so they can contribute their talents to our society.

They are students—Dream Act students—with a passion for the service of others and this great country. You must not turn your back on them.

Senator McCain, you are aware of this hunger and this passion, because you are a father who cares about providing opportunity for your children. You are a decorated veteran who cares about protecting our country. You are a distinguished leader in the U.S. Senate who cares deeply about the future of our nation.

The fasting DREAM Act students (Dulce Juarez and Celso Mireles, as well as the mother of a DREAM Act student Rosa Marta Soto) outside your office are hungry for knowledge and eager for the opportunities to learn and to serve our great country. But they are not alone. Joining them in this fast and in this fight for justice are students from Illinois, California, Washington, D.C., Texas, Georgia, Iowa, Florida and New York. They are looking to you for leadership, Senator. With your past support of the DREAM Act, you have shown this leadership. They need you now.

You are in a unique position to make the difference and bring justice for these students by exerting your leadership in the Senate. Please continue your commitment to honor Cesar Chavez’s legacy by voting YES for the DREAM Act. ¡Sí Se Puede!

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta Foundation

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund