WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the reintroduction in the Senate of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill that promotes fair access to higher education for all high school students, regardless of immigration status. The DREAM Act, reintroduced today by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and 31 co-sponsors, came close to passage in the previous Congress, passing in the House and falling just five votes short of the 60 required to move forward in the Senate. The DREAM Act is also expected to be introduced today in the House by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) with bipartisan support.
“Congress has a second chance to make the right choice where the last Congress failed and pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would help thousands of bright, talented students reach their full potential,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The DREAM Act is a quintessentially American bill that will allow motivated young people to secure a better future for themselves and their families by contributing to the U.S. economy and American institutions, and we urge Congress to pass it.”
The DREAM Act would provide affordable post-secondary education and military service opportunities for young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, have lived here for at least five years and have graduated from high school. The DREAM Act has the support of President Obama and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as countless other public officials, military and business leaders and educators. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has underscored the DREAM Act’s benefits for military recruitment.
The reintroduced bill includes a critical provision that would restore states’ authority to determine students’ residency for purposes of higher education benefits, a provision that was removed from the bill voted on by the last Congress.
“Passing the DREAM Act would be a watershed moment for immigrants’ rights in America that is long overdue and vitally necessary,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The students who stand to benefit from this bill are talented, motivated young people who want to continue serving their communities and build a future in the U.S. It would be a tribute to American values of fairness and equal opportunity to give them the chance to match their capabilities with achievements that will help our nation grow. Congress must come together, regardless of party, to ensure that all students can access every educational and military opportunity they have rightly earned.”
HACU applauded the reintroduction of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) in the112th Congress. The DREAM Act provides a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and allows them to have access to benefits including the health care exchanges.
"We strongly support Senator Durbin's introduction of the DREAM Act in the Senate and Congressman Berman’s and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s introduction of the bill in the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress and will continue to work to pass the legislation,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. The bills put deserving and hard-working young people who attend college or join the military on the path to U.S. citizenship.
HACU has taken a strong position in advocating for the DREAM Act for many years. On April 26, Flores sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his executive power to prevent the deportation of DREAM Act students. HACU is urging colleges and universities to send similar letters asking the President to stop the deportation of DREAM Act students.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) was established in 1986 with a founding membership of 18 institutions. Today, HACU represents more than 400 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). This year, HACU is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and will host its annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, October 29-31, 2011.
Today, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 32 cosponsors re-introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), bipartisan legislation that will benefit talented immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military. In the House, Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) are expected to introduce the House version this afternoon. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization based in Washington.
“We applaud Senator Durbin and his colleagues in the Senate, as well as Representatives Berman and Ros-Lehtinen for their leadership in seeking solutions to our broken immigration system. The DREAM Act is a vital stepping stone to immigration reform and Congress should act on it.
The DREAM Act would allow undocumented immigrant youth the opportunity to stay in the U.S. and continue their education or serve in this country’s armed forces. Denying these students access to higher education does not force them to leave our country—the only country they call home. Instead, it forces them to remain in the underground workforce, depriving America of the increased economic productivity and the tax revenues provided by a better-educated workforce.
America can’t afford to waste the contributions of young immigrant students who would, if we would let them, continue with their education or serve in the military, strengthening our nation for all of our families.”
Washington, D.C. - Today, Senators Richard Durbin, Harry Reid, and Robert Menendez re-introduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Last fall, the DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives, and garnered the support of a majority in the Senate, but was ultimately defeated when the Senate failed to invoke cloture and proceed to debate. The sponsors of the DREAM Act hope to build on last year’s momentum and continue to highlight the importance of fully utilizing the talent and potential of thousands of young people who are Americans in every way but their birth certificates.
First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought here without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high school, stayed out of trouble, and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.
Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, many at the top of their classes, but cannot go on to college, join the military, work, or otherwise pursue their dreams. They belong to the 1.5 generation: immigrants brought to the United States at a young age who were largely raised in this country and therefore share much in common with second-generation Americans. These students are culturally American and fluent in English, growing up here and often having little attachment to their country of birth.
The moral, intellectual and practical rationale for the DREAM Act is overwhelming. The White House supports it. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice, entrusted with enforcing and implementing our immigration laws, support it. The Department of Education and America's academic and faith community support it, as well as state legislators, community groups, and the American public. The DREAM Act is even part of the Department of Defense's 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.
Despite broad support for the legislative proposal, the divisive political environment around immigration poses an enormous challenge for the DREAM Act. If Congress fails to act, the Administration can and should take more decisive steps to ensure that the values driving their legislative agenda are reflected in their implementation and interpretation of current law. DHS should ensure that its officers use their prosecutorial discretion to defer the removal of any eligible student caught up in the broken immigration system.