Educators Push for the DREAM Act On Capitol Hill

Recognizing that another class of high school and college students are graduating this year only to see their dreams deferred, a coalition of academic professionals have come together to swiftly Act on the Dream.

Led by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the coalition consists 25 other co-founding organizations, including the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), The College Board, National Immigration Law Center, and the United States Student Association. Their goal is the immediate passage of the DREAM Act to provide a pathway to citizenship for several undocumented youth. At the National Press Club, several notable speakers, such as Gaby Pacheco from the Trail of Dreams, got together for a summit on the DREAM Act to mark the launch of the coalition.

An estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrants from all walks of life graduate from high school each year, and most are locked out of colleges and universities because they lack papers. The ones who do make it to colleges and universities struggle to pay because undocumented students cannot get financial aid, loans and in-state tuition in most states. Hence, for many students, the DREAM Act isn’t about immigration; it’s about fulfilling their dreams of higher education. As a result, dozens of university presidents have come out in support of the DREAM Act, and now a coalition of educators are openly advocating for immediate passage of the measure.

There’s some confusion over whether grassroots advocates want a stand-alone bill advanced through Congress or would settle for the DREAM Act as an amendment or rider to a bigger bill. When asked for clarification, advocates affirmed that the “standalone” language certainly does not reflect a policy perspective and simply denotes “separate from CIR” or “a down-payment to CIR.” There’s certainly space for multiple vehicles. What’s not debatable is the need to take Congressional action this year.

“Passing the DREAM Act this summer is a step to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform in the near future based on victories instead of defeats,” declared Antonio R. Flores, the President of HACU.

Tomorrow, key Senators working on immigration reform are expected to meet and decide on whether they want to advance any sort of piecemeal reform this year. The clock is ticking and the window of opportunity to get a legislative victory before the mid-term elections is closing down on everyone.

Photo Credit: Act on the Dream

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