NAACP Supports Dream Act Legislation
LEGISLATION SYMBOLIZES WHAT AMERICA IS MEANT TO BE ALL ABOUT – IT REWARDS HARD WORK AND A COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
Currently, people who entered the country without documentation, regardless of their age at the time of entry, how long they have lived in the United States or their behavior or accomplishments since living the United States, potentially face deportation at any time. Normally a child brought into the country without immigration visas, would have to first leave the US in order to apply for a visa. Returning to their country of birth would not guarantee a path to a visa. Attempts to return are often difficult, with roadblocks such as three- to ten-year bans on reentering the U.S.
To address this quagmire, Senator Richard Durbin (IL) and Richard Lugar (IN) have introduced S. 3992, the bipartisan “Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act”, also called the DREAM Act. Companion legislation, H.R. 1751 has been introduced by Congressman Howard Berman and in the House. If this bill is signed into law, young people, many of whom have lived in the United States most of their lives would have an opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college and have a path to documented status, including citizenship which they otherwise would not have without this legislation. In order to qualify under the DREAM Act, an individual must have entered the United States before the age of 16 (i.e. 15 and younger); must have been present in the United States for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill; must have graduated from a United States high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education (i.e. college/university); must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application; and must demonstrate “good moral character” (in other words, not gotten into trouble with the law, must have members of the community, teachers, etc, who are willing to vouch for their character, etc).
If enacted, the DREAM Act will allow tens of thousands of young people – people who have worked hard, integrated themselves into the American culture and into American communities and stayed away from trouble – to fulfill their dream and the dreams of their parents and to become American citizens. This in turn will allow them to go to college or serve in the US military. The DREAM Act symbolizes what America is meant to be all about – it rewards hard work and a commitment to the community with citizenship. There are still too many young men and women who are preparing to go into their future with too much uncertainty. At a time when they should be celebrating and looking towards an exciting future full of promise and hope, they are instead faced with limitations due entirely to a broken immigration system that does not care, frankly, if they are an honor student, a star athlete, a member of the state champion debating team, or a typical student who has worked hard and stayed out of trouble. The DREAM Act would change that, and reward these young men and women for their hard work and their strength of character which has guided them to this point in their lives. The DREAM Act is good for our economy, our security, and our nation. It’s limited, targeted legislation that will allow only the best and brightest young people to earn their legal status after a rigorous and lengthy process, and applies to those brought to the United States as minors by their parents, and who know no other home.
The House and Senate leadership are trying to bring the DREAM Act up for a vote in the next few days before the end of the lame duck session. The NAACP strongly supports passage of this important bill before Congress adjourns for Christmas!