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DREAM Act Gives Hard-Working, Patriotic Young People a Shot at the American Dream

Education Secretary Arne Duncan writes the the first in a series of posts from top Administration Officials on the importance of the DREAM Act.

Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of posts from top Administration Officials on the importance of the DREAM Act.

Now is the time to press on with our full support for the DREAM Act.  We’re closer than we’ve ever been and we’re not giving up.

The President, myself, and many of my Cabinet colleagues have held conference calls, talked to the press, and written op-eds and letters of support.  We will keep doing whatever it takes to make this happen for thousands of hard-working, patriotic young people who are leaders in their communities and who are looking for an opportunity to attend college or serve our country in the military, but who can’t, through no fault of their own.  The Senate has the chance to offer them and our nation a brighter future by coming together in a bipartisan way to pass the DREAM Act.

Wednesday night, the House of Representatives took an historic and courageous step forward by passing their version of the DREAM Act.  Eight Republicans joined Democrats to rise above the heated political rhetoric and embrace this common-sense approach.  Yesterday, the Senate leadership decided to table their version of the DREAM Act and take up the House approved bill.  It was the right thing to do.  This wasn’t the end of the DREAM Act.  It was a lifeline — another chance to build on the tremendous momentum coming out of the House.

In the coming days, the Senate will have the opportunity to open the door to the American Dream of college for these bright, talented youth, unleashing 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.  The result will be a new generation of college graduates who will help strengthen our economic security and a new set of future taxpayers who will contribute much more as college graduates than they ever would as struggling workers moving from one under-the-table job to another.  They will help build the economy of the 21st century.

The students of the DREAM Act are some of the country’s best and brightest.  They were raised and educated in America.  They are valedictorians, star athletes, community leaders, and are active in their faith.  They text and go to the mall.  They are Americans in every sense of the word.  They have deep roots here and are loyal to the country that has been the only home they’ve known.  They are our future pediatricians, teachers, and engineers — if we give them a chance.  They are exactly the type of young people America should be embracing.

But, unlike their classmates, DREAM Act students are in a bind.  It goes against the basic American sense of fairness to punish children for the choices of their parents.  But thousands of young people find themselves in that position.  We can’t let them continue to live unfulfilled lives of fear and squandered hopes.  We need to act before we lose this generation.  It’s who we are as Americans, at our best.  The time is now.

Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education