by Félix Pérez
DREAMer students and their families are one step closer to stepping out of the shadows thanks to a Senate committee vote yesterday evening in favor of a bipartisan immigration reform bill.
Take Action ›
Sign the petition: Students and their families deserve fair immigration reform now. Click here ›
The Senate Judiciary Committee vote, 13-5, completes an important legislative step for the historic bill. The compromise bill represents the first attempt in nearly 30 years to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system.
Senator and Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the landmark legislation “grants a faster track to the ‘dreamers’ brought to this country as children through no fault of their own.”
Continued Leahy, “The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history, our values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action. We need an immigration system that lives up to American values and helps write the next great chapter in American history by reinvigorating our economy and enriching our communities.”
Educators from across the nation, joining with child advocacy groups, religious leaders, civil rights organizations, labor groups and business groups, have weighed in with Congress through tens of thousands petitions, letters, phone calls and personal visits. Next, the bill is expected to move to the full Senate in June, while the House continues to prepare it version.
Arizona math teacher Dennis Van Roekel, speaking on behalf of the 3 million educators who are members of the National Education Association, applauded the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan leadership in overhauling a system that has been a source of fear and distress for students, families and communities “for far too long.”
We welcome the DREAM Act provision granting a five-year path to citizenship for those who entered the U.S. before age 16 who have either completed high school, earned a G.E.D., earned a college degree or served four years of military service – the most progressive legislative language on the DREAM Act introduced to date. As a country, society will continue to reap the benefits of their hard work, ingenuity and achievements for years to come.
The bipartisan Senate bill also stays true to our country’s ideal of keeping families together by expanding the family unification and reunification provisions.
President Barack Obama, a DREAMer advocate, congratulated the committee for advancing a bill that is “largely consistent with the principles of common-sense reform I have proposed and meets the challenge of fixing our broken immigration system.” The president and Vice President Joe Biden hosted a meeting yesterday morning at the White House with young immigrants and families directly affected by our nation’s broken immigration system.
In addition, during its “mark-up” of proposed amendments to the bill, the committee briefly discussed but did not formally consider the “Little DREAMers” amendment. The Little DREAMers amendment continues to be a priority because it would would shorten the waiting period for America’s youngest DREAMers to five years, the same waiting period under the broader bill that applies to DREAMers who were brought here as children but are now older than 16. DREAMer advocates are hopeful the amendment will be introduced when the immigration bill goes to the Senate floor in June.