Neas: ‘Let’s make this dream a reality’
People For the American Way celebrated the Senate reintroduction of the DREAM Act, which will give thousands of deserving immigrant youth a path to earned citizenship.
Like previous versions of the act, the bipartisan bill reintroduced in the Senate on Tuesday would give immigrant children who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and at least five years before its enactment an opportunity to earn legal permanent residency.
“Across the country, thousands of immigrant students who were raised in this country are graduating from high school facing deportation instead of college,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “They have done nothing wrong. Indeed many are valedictorians, star athletes and leaders among their peers. Whatever their talents and abilities, these students’ American Dream ends at graduation from high school. It is unfair to the students, and unfair to the communities where their contributions are made.”
The DREAM Act would apply only to undocumented children who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and have been in the U.S. for at least five years. Once the students earn a high school diploma and satisfy rigorous standards for moral character and achievement, they will be given conditional legal residency for six years. Permanent legal residency, or a “green card,” can then be earned with two years in a college or university, or two years in the military.
The DREAM Act would also make college more accessible to immigrant students by repealing a section of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that discourages states from offering undocumented students in-state tuition rates.
“Senators Durbin, Hagel and Lugar deserve praise for introducing this critical legislation,” Neas said. “For far too many years, too many children have been consigned to a permanent underclass, with absolutely no chance of social advancement, because of their undocumented status. It makes no sense to deny the next generation of doctors, nurses and firefighters the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they were raised. The DREAM Act serves both our national interest and the interest of fairness and justice.”
Representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., reintroduced the DREAM Act of 2007 in the House of Representatives last Thursday.