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Bipartisan Introduction of the DREAM Act this Week Keeps the DREAM Alive; Congressional and Administration Action Needed
Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Majority Leader Harry Reid and 31 of their Senate colleagues, in addition to Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the DREAM Act in the U.S. Congress. For the 11th year, this bipartisan legislation offers talented young people, Americans in all but paperwork, an opportunity to fully contribute to the country they call home.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “The DREAM Act is good for the economy, good for the military, and good for young people who want to get an education, get a job, and give back to their family, community and country. As the President said in his 2011 State of the Union address and reiterated yesterday in a major speech in El Paso, it simply makes no sense to continue deporting these talented young people. By reintroducing the DREAM Act, Senator Durbin, Reps. Berman and Ros-Lehtinen, and their fellow co-sponsors are providing their Republican colleagues with another opportunity to end their blockade of sensible immigration reform.”
The DREAM Act has broad support – in the last Congress, the DREAM Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives and won a majority in the Senate, coming just five votes short of the sixty votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. The DREAM Act has been continually introduced on a bipartisan basis in Congress for more than ten years and enjoys the support of approximately 70 percent of voters, according to a poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for First Focus in June 2010 and a November 2010 poll from Lake Research Partners showed similarly high levels of support. The DREAM Act has been championed by religious, business, education and civil rights leaders, as well as military leaders and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who recognize the benefits of recruiting talented young people who are eager to serve.
President Obama also is a strong supporter of the legislation. During his commencement address at Miami Dade College in South Florida on April 29, he spoke about DREAM eligible youth, saying, “Some were brought here as young children and discovered the truth only as adults…They put their futures on the line in hopes they will spur the rest of us to live up to our most cherished values.” And yesterday in El Paso, the President reiterated his support for these young people: “These are kids who grew up in this country. They love this country. They know no other place to call home. The idea that we’d punish them is cruel. It makes no sense. We’re a better nation than that.”
Although congressional action is needed to resolve the status of these young people permanently, Republicans in Congress blocked DREAM from becoming law last year and unfortunately, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) continues to be a roadblock to the DREAM Act’s passage despite its support from the majority of the public, the military, economists and faith leaders.
Eventually, the Republican Party should realize that it is costly, wrong and unfair for them to stand in the way of these bright and talented young people reaching their full potential. In the meantime, there are steps the Obama Administration can take to temporarily halt their deportation nightmares. In March, 22 U.S. Senators issued a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano calling for relief from deportations for talented DREAM students.
Sharry added, “It is Congress’ responsibility to change the law and put these young Americans on a pathway to earned citizenship, and Republicans in particular need to take their cues from leaders like Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and step up and do the right thing. Until then, the President should use his executive authority to halt the deportations of DREAM students. No one benefits from deporting these talented young people who grew up in America and know no other home.”
For more information about the DREAM Act from Senate sponsor, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), click HERE.
America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.