It’s been an incredibly busy week as we continue to work with our allies in Congress and across the country to try to get the DREAM Act across the finish line.
Here is a quick update. It looks like the House and Senate could take up the DREAM Act as early as this week. From the White House and Obama Administration we continue to do all we can, with everyone from the President to Cabinet and Senior officials working to highlight how important the DREAM Act is to our economy, our security, and our nation.
As you know, the DREAM Act is common-sense legislation drafted by both Republicans and Democrats that would give students who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our country’s well-being by serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing a higher education. Because it just makes sense, the DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support. It is 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 through no fault of their own by their parents. These are young people who know no other home. Here is some of the work we have been doing:
- Secretary Duncan participated in a call with Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform about the DREAM Act and posted an oped in The Hill saying “Passing the DREAM Act will unleash the full potential of young people who live out values that all Americans cherish — a strong work ethic; service to others; and a deep loyalty to our country. It will also strengthen our military, bolster our global economic competitiveness and increase our educational standing in the world.” Later that day he hosted a call with over 100 University Presidents on the importance of the DREAM Act.
- Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Cecilia Munoz and I participated in a DREAM Act web chat on WhiteHouse.gov taking great questions like whether the legislation would encourage people to come to the United States illegally (it would not) and whether the DREAM Act can be implemented by the President via Executive Order (it cannot, which is why he is strongly urging Congress to do the right thing by passing it). Secretary Solis, Valerie Jarrett, Cecilia Munoz and I participated in a conference call with hundreds of people across the country as well to give them an update.
- On Wednesday, Joshua DuBois, Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and over 100 faith leaders from across the country participated in a conference call about why the DREAM Act is the right thing to do.
- Under Secretary of Defense Dr. Clifford Stanley spoke out in support of the DREAM Act saying "Throughout past and current conflicts, those who are not yet citizens have answered the call to defend their adopted nation...Allowing DREAM Act-eligible youth the opportunity to serve this nation would continue this tradition of service, while expanding the market of high-quality patriotic youth, to the advantage of military recruitment and readiness."
- On Thursday, Secretary Napolitano held a conference call with reporters in which she made it clear that the DREAM Act is important for our law enforcement, and will help us better focus our resources so we can enforce immigration laws in a “way that makes sense,” targeting criminals.
- On Friday, Secretary Locke hosted a call with University Presidents Dr. Carlos Campo, President of Regent University, Dr. Gene Block, Chancellor, UCLA and Dr. Eduardo Padron, Miami-Dade College to talk about the importance of the DREAM Act to our country’s competitiveness. Secretary Locke said, "These are kids that can be our future scientists, our doctors, our military leaders and our educators. Some of them are our future entrepreneurs who will build the next Google or Intel that will generate hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs for our country."
- The White House also released a fact sheet and a top ten list on why we need to pass the DREAM Act, highlighting myths and facts about the legislation as well as highlighting real stories, key supporters of the bill and over 50 editorial boards that have come out in support of the DREAM Act .
So it’s the end of a busy week, but we will keep gearing up for more action next week as Congress heads toward votes. Keep up with what we're doing on WhiteHouse.gov.
Stephanie Valencia is an Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement