NEW YORK - NY U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman has announced that he is circulating a letter among House Democrats urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to schedule a floor vote on the DREAM Act during the lame-duck session of Congress, which is set to resume the week of November 29th. The letter, which Ackerman began to circulate late Thursday, currently has more than 40 co-signers.
The DREAM Act would enable undocumented children – who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday and have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years with no criminal record – to earn permanent legal status, and begin the process towards citizenship through attending college or joining the Armed Forces. The DREAM Act would benefit an estimated 934,000 students presently in elementary or secondary school. Many of these students have no memory of life in a country other than the United States.
"The DREAM Act is a humanitarian bill that helps kids who are our neighbors that are being punished for a decision they did not make,” said Ackerman. “All children, documented or undocumented, deserve the same basic educational opportunities that this bill provides. We must fight to pass this legislation now, before the current Congress ends, because next year we won't have the votes. We owe these children that much."
The full text of the letter appears below:
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Speaker Majority Leader
U.S.House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 U.S. Capitol H-107 U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Madam Speaker and Majority Leader Hoyer:
We write to urge you to bring the DREAM Act to the floor of the House of Representatives before the end of the 111th Congress.
The lame-duck session is an opportunity to finally pass this crucial legislation, which would provide an estimated 934,000 undocumented children presently in elementary or secondary school with the chance to legalize their status by serving (at the appropriate time) in our nation’s Armed Forces or attending an institution of higher education. Many of these young people have spent almost their entire lives in the United States, now desperately hoping that the DREAM Act would be enacted so they could have the same opportunities to pursue the American dream as their classroom peers. Unfortunately, they have been held hostage by a national immigration debate that has been both hostile and overtly partisan.
These children are blameless. For many of them, America is the only home they have ever known and English is the only language they speak. Holding these children accountable for an immigration status they did not choose and could not control is grossly unfair.
Now is the best opportunity we may have to pass the DREAM Act. Any further delay imperils the chance for these young people to eventually legalize their status and pursue a higher education.
We urge you to bring the DREAM Act to the floor in the lame-duck session, so we can finally pass legislation to put the American dream within reach for all of America’s youth.