Blog of Rights

WSJ Advocates Making DREAM a Reality

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 6:09pm

Saturday's Wall Street Journal featured an editorial endorsing the DREAM Act, legislation pending before the Senate that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented students who complete two years of college or military service. The WSJ writes:

Restrictionists dismiss the Dream Act as an amnesty that rewards people who entered the country illegally. But the bill targets individuals brought here by their parents as children. What is to be gained by holding otherwise law-abiding young people, who had no say in coming to this country, responsible for the illegal actions of others? The Dream Act also makes legal status contingent on school achievement and military service, the type of behavior that ought to be encouraged and rewarded.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Times profiled yet another talented student from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). According to the Times, Luis Perez is the first undocumented immigrant to graduate from UCLA's law school, and plans to take the California bar exam in January. But as the article points out, "Even if he passes the bar, Luis Perez will probably need the Dream Act to become a practicing lawyer."

The DREAM Act also has support from military leaders. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell supports the bill, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) earlier this year:

[T]here is a rich precedent supporting the service of non-citizens in the US military. Since the Revolutionary War, non-citizens have enlisted in the armed forces for service during periods of national emergency. Today, about 35, 000 non-citizens serve, and about 8,000 permanent resident aliens enlist every year. The DREAM Act represents an opportunity to expand this pool, to the advantage of military recruiting and readiness.

We recently blogged about a California Supreme Court ruling that allows the state to provide in-state tuition rates to California high school graduates who have attended school in the state for at least three years prior to earning their diploma.  The DREAM Act would also clarify that federal law does not bar states from making this policy choice to afford students equal access to education.

It's expected that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will file for a cloture vote on the DREAM Act early as this week. The ACLU supports passage of the DREAM Act. Tell your members of Congress they should support it too!

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