Democrats fell four votes shy of moving forward the act that would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants who served in the military or graduated college and met certain requirements. They had tried to pass it as part of a defense appropriations bill.
"This does not mean it is over," said Fontana resident Gladys Castro, a UC Berkeley student who came to the United States when she was 8. "It means we have to stand up and pass the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill."
Thirteen people participated in the rally, which organizers started developing last week.
"It's a good turnout for a quick event," said Kathi Scarpace, a coordinator with the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California. "Any time we can come together and speak for what's important, it's a good thing."
Supporters said the bill would strengthen the economy by creating a more educated workforce.
Some local organizations say the DREAM Act would do anything but benefit the economy, however.
"To give amnesty to illegal immigrant children is immoral," said Raymond Herrera, founder of the Claremont-based foundation We the People, California's Crusader. "To those people who are crying about the kid in college, there's a counterpart: the American father who's displaced by that same illegal immigrant who wants the DREAM Act."
The quarter-hour rally attracted the interest of Denver Cooley, a San Bernardino resident who had other business at City Hall.
"I didn't know about the DREAM Act," Cooley said, "but it makes sense. The fact that these girls here aren't documented but they're in college and so many (citizens) aren't - we should be using their intelligence. Let's get the paperwork to get them on with their lives."