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How Student DREAMers Won A Step in Immigration Reform

It is worth spending a moment to pay homage to the DREAM Act students whose extraordinary activism made change possible.

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In this case, instead of deciding it was advantageous to cave to anti-immigrant forces, Obama looked for a way to please a mobilized and dissatisfied Latino base. We have the DREAMers to thank for that.

That the executive order does not go far enough is also a reality. The president himself has acknowledged it, stating, "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure." An executive order can be reversed by a future administration, and even the DREAM Act, if passed, would only be a modest step toward comprehensive immigration reform for all people, young and old. But if you are looking for how ultimately to win a comprehensive solution, there are few better teachers than the students who have brought us this far. Militancy, courage, persistence, a clear and just purpose, and willingness to make personal sacrifices. These are powerful ingredients for change.

These DREAMers aren't finished yet. America's shifting demographics are on their side. And their recent victory gives them a well-deserved shot of encouragement.

As Praeli said in a moment of inspiration, "I think we're unstoppable."

Mark Engler, a writer based in New York City, is a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, 2008). He can be reached via