Bill Would Help Promote Fairness And Equality In Access To Higher Education, Says ACLU
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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the reintroduction in the Senate of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill that promotes fair access to higher education for all high school students, regardless of immigration status. The DREAM Act, reintroduced today by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and 31 co-sponsors, came close to passage in the previous Congress, passing in the House and falling just five votes short of the 60 required to move forward in the Senate. The DREAM Act is also expected to be introduced today in the House by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) with bipartisan support.
“Congress has a second chance to make the right choice where the last Congress failed and pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would help thousands of bright, talented students reach their full potential,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The DREAM Act is a quintessentially American bill that will allow motivated young people to secure a better future for themselves and their families by contributing to the U.S. economy and American institutions, and we urge Congress to pass it.”
The DREAM Act would provide affordable post-secondary education and military service opportunities for young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, have lived here for at least five years and have graduated from high school. The DREAM Act has the support of President Obama and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as countless other public officials, military and business leaders and educators. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has underscored the DREAM Act’s benefits for military recruitment.
The reintroduced bill includes a critical provision that would restore states’ authority to determine students’ residency for purposes of higher education benefits, a provision that was removed from the bill voted on by the last Congress.
“Passing the DREAM Act would be a watershed moment for immigrants’ rights in America that is long overdue and vitally necessary,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The students who stand to benefit from this bill are talented, motivated young people who want to continue serving their communities and build a future in the U.S. It would be a tribute to American values of fairness and equal opportunity to give them the chance to match their capabilities with achievements that will help our nation grow. Congress must come together, regardless of party, to ensure that all students can access every educational and military opportunity they have rightly earned.”