Students, some undocumented, turned up Wednesday at the Miami and Orlando offices of Florida Republican Sen. George LeMieux to keep up pressure on him to vote for the DREAM Act, which would legalize hundreds of thousands of foreign students brought here illegally by their parents when they were children.
In Doral, about 15 students lined up in front of LeMieux's office holding symbolic immigration petitions for legal status and signs in favor of the DREAM Act. Two of the students, Stephanie Wall of Colombia and Vanessa Núñez of Venezuela, stepped forward and before TV cameras identified themselves as undocumented foreign youths hoping for passage of the bill.
Though LeMieux on Tuesday indicated he likely will vote against the DREAM Act, the students said they want to hear a definitive statement from the senator on how he intends to vote. LeMieux voted against the bill in September when it came up as an amendment to a defense spending measure.
"Last September, Sen. LeMieux was very evasive about his position on the DREAM Act, until he finally voted against it," said Felipe Matos, a Brazilian who was one of four South Florida youths who earlier this year walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the bill. "We want to know if he will betray Florida's youth one more time."
In an interview with The Miami Herald in Washington on Tuesday, LeMieux strongly suggested he will oppose the DREAM Act again.
Asked if he was going to vote against the bill, LeMieux replied: "The way it is postured now I am. If you could do border security and tighten something up, I'd be willing to look at it. I think you have to secure the borders before you talk about other immigration issues."
LeMieux also said that though he understood the foreign students' plight, he did not think this was the time to help them given enforcement concerns.
"I'm sympathetic to them," LeMieux said. "But we've got a huge problem... If we could do a significant border security measure, then I'd be willing to talk about this situation with these kids who are brought here by no fault of their own. But until we do that, I'm not supporting it."