People For the American Way and African American Ministers in Action Support the DREAM Act (SJC)

June 27, 2011

The Honorable Charles Schumer, Chairman
The Honorable Richard Durbin, Member
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

RE: Hearing, June 28, 2011, “The DREAM Act”

Dear Chairman Schumer and Senator Durbin:

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way and the progressive African American faith leaders from around the country represented by African American Ministers in Action, we write in strong support of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (H.R. 1842/S. 952). We commend you both for holding this hearing, and we thank Senator Durbin for taking the gavel and for his extraordinary, steadfast leadership on this legislation.

The DREAM Act would allow access to post-secondary educational opportunities for the many undocumented youths who currently face difficult obstacles on the road to higher education. It applies to persons 35 or younger who arrived in the US at age 15 or younger and who have been here for at least five years upon the date of enactment. Once they have a high school diploma, GED, or have been accepted to college, these individuals would be able to apply for conditional nonimmigrant status, which lasts up to six years. To be adjusted to legal permanent residency, they will need to demonstrate good moral character and prove completion of a college degree, two years toward a bachelor’s or other higher degree, or two years of military service. Citizenship is available after that only as a choice to apply for naturalization. The DREAM Act also includes a provision that would give states the option (without guarantee) to offer in-state tuition to undocumented youths.

Some have argued that the DREAM Act should not be considered until the United States addresses comprehensive immigration reform. As you well know, this is an arduous process yet to be resolved; much disagreement remains as to what changes should be made. We will not lose sight of this goal; nobody should. But this legislation is achievable now and would be an important step forward.

People For the American Way and African American Ministers in Action believe that if students are able to complete their education and work legally, they will become a vital part of our society able to contribute to our economy and live their own American dream. We strongly support the DREAM Act.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way
President

Marge Baker
People For the American Way
Executive Vice President for Policy and Program

Reverend Timothy McDonald, III
African American Ministers In Action
Chairman

Reverend Dr. Robert P. Shine
African American Ministers in Action
Vice Chair

cc: Members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security

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