Hundreds of young immigrant students from across the country are gathering this month in Washington, D.C., to pressure Congress for swift passage of the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that will benefit talented undocumented immigrant kids who yearn to attend college or serve in the United States military.
Today, these young students will be part of the inaugural class of the “DREAM University”. The “DREAM University” is a forum for immigrant students who yearn for higher education but are denied access due to their immigration status. Young participants will not have to prove citizenship status in order to attend free lectures by educators and organizers.
“We congratulate these inspiring students for their courage and determination to bring national awareness to their struggle to access higher education and a fair opportunity to succeed,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum and Chair of the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign. “The DREAM Act is an integral component of comprehensive immigration reform and these young activists are key allies of the coalition fighting to fix our broken immigration system. ”
Young immigrant students are the overlooked casualties of the immigration debate’s overheated rhetoric. They were brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own, were raised in America, educated in America and think of themselves as Americans. Many long to earn a college degree or serve the country in uniform but they face a dim future of dead-end jobs because they are stuck in a paperwork trap.
The DREAM Act addresses the purgatory-like status of these young immigrant students who are ready to give back to America – their home – through hard work and service. This bipartisan bill offers a practical solution. It defies common sense to put higher education out of reach for hard working immigrant students. Doing so won’t force them to leave our country-the only country they call home. It would, however force them to remain in the underground workforce while America is deprived of the increased economic productivity and tax revenues provided by a better-educated workforce.
“Congress should emulate the courage of these young people, set political gamesmanship aside and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year” added Noorani. “Unless Congress acts swiftly to address illegal immigration with pragmatic and long lasting solutions, some of our best and brightest immigrant students will have their potential cut short. The DREAM Act guards our nation’s investment in the education of its youth, and ensures that America will reap the benefits of those investments.”