Senate Holds First Hearing on the DREAM Act

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The AFT joined more than 100 other organizations that submitted statements supporting the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act, in a June 28 hearing before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. It was the first Senate hearing on the DREAM Act.

In a statement submitted for the record, AFT president Randi Weingarten stated that "the DREAM Act is the right thing to do for our country and for immigrant youth who have shown, through their hard work and commitment, an irrepressible desire to achieve their dreams." The AFT already has expressed its support for passage of the act, which would create a pathway to legal status for qualified undocumented students who come to the United States before the age of 16 if they, in addition to meeting other requirements, complete at least two years of college or military service.

The hearing included supportive testimony from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, student Ola Kaso and others, but it was the hearings chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has led the effort to pass the legislation in the Senate—who set the tone with his passion and commitment to this issue and to the students the DREAM Act would help.

Addressing the many students in the hearing room who would benefit from the legislation—or "DREAMers"—Durbin expressed disappointment that his Senate colleagues had not yet passed this legislation. It has the support of the majority of the senators but has been stopped by Republican-led filibusters. Durbin told the DREAMers that he and most of his colleagues believe in their potential, and he hopes they believe in this country and should not give up on this fight. "Sometimes we take a long time to make the right decision for fairness and justice," he said, "but eventually we finally do." [Craig Smith, AFT legislation department]

June 28, 2011