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Students hope to have DREAM fulfilled

Roselyn Salazar, a senior at Temple University, came to Philadelphia from Bolivia when she was 8 months old.

Roselyn Salazar, a senior at Temple University, came to Philadelphia from Bolivia when she was 8 months old.

Her parents arrived on tourist visas, then overstayed them, but it wasn't until she was 10 years old that she found out she was an illegal immigrant.

She is hoping the U.S. Senate votes on and passes the DREAM Act Saturday - a bill that would allow hundreds of thousands of education-minded people like her, who were brought to the U.S. as children, the opportunity to earn legal status.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed for cloture on the bill Thursday night, setting it up for a vote Saturday morning. The Senate needs 60 votes to invoke cloture, or override a filibuster, and bring the measure to a vote.

Michelle Mittelstadt, spokeswoman at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, said it's been "an uphill battle" for supporters of the bill to get 60 votes.

If that doesn't happen, the bill won't be voted on. Then, "barring some sort of last-minute compromise by the two parties, [the bill] would essentially be dead" in this lame-duck session, she said.

The chances of it passing next year when Republicans take control of the House and add to their seats in the Senate are slimmer.

The bill passed the House Dec. 8, and President Obama supports it. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Friday urged passage of the bill, saying in a statement: "Why should someone who grew up in America, speaks English, holds degrees from one or more of our schools ... have to forgo a productive future? There is no good reason."

Critics of the bill consider it amnesty and say it's unfair to people who play by the rules.

Supporters say undocumented youths brought into the U.S. as children should not be punished for their parents' actions.

Maria Marroquín, 23, co-founder of the group DreamActivist Pennsylvania, said she and other advocates nationwide were aiming to make 100,000 calls to senators' offices Friday to urge them to vote for the bill. "We still need a couple more votes, especially Republican votes."

The Senate would vote on the House-passed bill, which would allow illegal immigrants under age 30 the chance to earn legal status if they attend two years of college or serve in the military.

Applicants would have to have arrived in the U.S. before age 16, lived here for the last five years, pass criminal background checks, pay surcharges totaling $2,525 and wait 10 years before applying for permanent legal status.

Salazar, 21, who asked that her middle name, Roselyn, be used, said her father tried to get legal status after the family came here in 1989. He had an employer willing to sponsor him, she said, but an immigration attorney they had at the time failed to file the proper documents.

After college, she said she would like to do database or programming work, but hasn't started applying for a job in that field yet because of her status.

If the DREAM Act doesn't pass, "we're all going to continue to fight for it," she said.