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Washington Take Note: DREAM Students Unafraid to Act on their Beliefs

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Student Leaders Take Courageous Stand to Highlight Need for Action This Year

Washington, DC – A series of recent actions by courageous young immigrants has highlighted one of the most egregious parts of our broken immigration system.  Under current law, young immigrants who arrive in the U.S. at a young age and grow up as Americans in all but paperwork are denied a shot at the American Dream and threatened with being deported to countries they barely remember. 

The best way to remedy this situation is for Congress to approve the DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act is a common-sense piece of legislation which has been a component of every comprehensive reform proposal put forward to date.  It would permit certain undocumented students to become permanent legal residents if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, and attend college or enlist in the military.

In the latest of a series of public actions, five students dressed in caps and gowns staged a sit-in at the Tucson, AZ office of Senator John McCain yesterday to draw attention to the need for Congress to approve the DREAM Act and to highlight Senator McCain’s past co-sponsorship of the legislation – support he has now withheld in light of his primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth.  According to a press release issued by the students, they are “risking deportation from the United States in the hope that this action will make a significant contribution to the fight for immigrant rights.  In response to the onslaught of enforcement-based immigration law, they staged a sit-in at Senator McCain’s office, and urged congressional leadership to champion the DREAM Act and the values it represents: hard work, education, and fairness.”

“These young leaders embody the best of the American spirit.  They are fearless in their convictions and heroic in their efforts,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “Like their fellow Trail of Dreams peers and leaders in Chicago, New York, and other campuses and cities throughout the country, they are taking a stand and risking it all.  Instead of moving to detain and deport these young Americans, Washington should be rushing to honor their courage and grant them citizenship.”

Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from U.S. high schools and many of them struggle to attend U.S. institutes of higher education and to join the military.  In many cases, students have lived in the U.S. nearly their entire lives.  Tired of being held down by a dysfunctional and outdated immigration system, DREAM activists have stepped up in remarkable ways.  Examples of recent actions include Illinois students who have “come out” as “Undocumented and Unafraid” and a group of four students who would be affected by the DREAM Act who walked from Miami to Washington DC on the Trail of Dreams to raise awareness. 

Added Sharry, “Leadership takes courage and these young people have got it.  Let’s hope Washington gets inspired by them to act.” 

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.