"We can be a nation of laws and immigrations," declared President Obama at yesterday’s immigration reform speech. He spoke of America attracting the best and the brightest from across the globe and the moral imperative to fix our broken immigration system. While the numerous issues hindering immigration reform were eloquently outlined, the president’s speech lacked an action plan for enacting reform legislation. The conspicuous absence of a legislative strategy was disappointing, and the reality is setting in that comprehensive immigration reform will most likely not happen this summer.
Despite the political posturing that has stalled the immigration debate, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act has attracted massive public and legislative support. Passing the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill not only makes sense, it’s what the nation is demanding.
Undocumented youth and their allies are being arrested, hospitalized, and harassed as they fight for the DREAM Act. Undeterred by threats or legislative lethargy, these activists continue to demonstrate that while Congress may not have an appetite for larger immigration reform, America is hungry for the DREAM Act. Grassroots organizing for the DREAM Act on campuses and in communities across the country has made clear that creating a pathway to citizenship through education for undocumented youth is something most of us can agree on.
This support is also reflected in Congress. The DREAM Act has 124 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 40 in the Senate, unbelievably high numbers considering the partisanism of Capital Hill. The fact that almost a majority of Senators not only support the bill, but have put their name to it demonstrates the immense common sense popularity of the DREAM Act.
Representing over four million college students, the United States Student Association calls on Congress to pass the DREAM Act as a stand alone bill this summer. It is a common sense solution to immigration that has both legislative a public support. It’s time for a reality check. There is no reason to continue holding out for future comprehensive immigration reform that may or may not happen while DREAM Act qualified undocumented students are being deported right now. Congress must put politics aside and do what is right—pass the DREAM Act now!