New York State Youth Leadership Council

DREAM Act: Gaining Momentum

26

May 09

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The DREAM Act, introduced in Congress on March 26, continues to gain national and local support. It has garnered the co-sponsorship of twenty-two Senators and sixty-two House members.

Last month, the College Board—composed of more than 5,000 member schools and other educational organizations—announced its backing for this legislation. In the report “Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students,” the College Board notes that the DREAM Act would allow 360,000 undocumented high school graduates to attend college and legalize their immigration status. Every year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, only 5 to 10 percent of them attend college.

Most students who would benefit from the DREAM Act came to the U.S. at an early age. They are educated in our schools and encouraged to succeed, but their immigration status limits their progress. As the author of the report states:

[They] have been raised to dream, yet are cut off from the very mechanisms that allow them to achieve their dreams.

According to Professor Allan Wernick, about 3,000 students at the City University of New York would benefit from the DREAM Act immediately. New York City and State representatives have voiced their support and urged Congress to enact it. On March 17, the New York Senate passed a resolution urging the federal government to take action. Mayor Bloomberg announced his support during Immigrant Heritage Week

The business sector has also voiced its support. Microsoft wrote a letter to Congress endorsing the bill. And just last week, Harvard’s president announced her support.

Our our nation’s economy will benefit from the contributions and skills of these young people. We cannot afford to waste their talents and potential. As Mayor Bloomberg said:

It is senseless for us to chase out the home-grown talent that has the potential to contribute so significantly to our society. They’re the ones who are going to start companies, invest in new technologies, pioneer medical advances.