Democrats in Congress are taking one more crack at passing the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act before the 111th session adjourns, and they need our help.
The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students who were brought to this country before the age of 16, have been here for at least five years, and have graduated from U.S. high schools or earned a GED. They could earn legal residency status by attending college for two years or through military service, both rigorous requirements that will allow these students to fully contribute to their communities and the country. Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, and many of them could benefit from the bill.
Under current rules, they are unable to get a driver's license, a Social Security number or a job, and in many states, they may not attend college. It is a waste of talent, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said in recent weeks, and a waste of valuable assets to this country, as other cabinet members such as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have added.
More than 65 percent of Americans support the DREAM Act, a recent survey shows, and AFT members overwhelmingly support the legislation, which has been introduced in every session of Congress since 2001. AFT delegates have approved two resolutions calling for its passage. Currently, the union is part of a broad coalition of groups working to pass the bill before Congress adjourns.
Now is the time to act! Congress is expected to vote on DREAM in the next few days. Go to the AFT's Legislative Action Center to let your members of Congress know that you support passage of the DREAM Act. [Barbara McKenna, Earl Hadley]
December 2, 2010