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Eight Administration Officials, My Immigrant Parents, and the DREAM Act

Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu looks back over a week of posts from top Obama Administration officials in support of the DREAM Act.

Ed. Note: This is the eighth in a series of posts from top Administration Officials on the importance of the DREAM Act.  Read Education Secretary Arne Duncan's post here, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's contribution here, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's post here, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's here, a post from Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, here, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack here, and Attorney General Eric Holder's post here.

As the head of the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs, I work every day with the President’s Cabinet to advance his policy priorities.  Few issues trigger the depth and breadth of support from across the Cabinet as the DREAM Act.  This landmark legislation would strengthen our economy, our competitiveness, our workforce, our national defense, and our homeland security. 

Having worked for the President for the past six years, I know first-hand his deep commitment to the DREAM Act.  As a State Senator in Illinois, he helped pass that state’s version of the DREAM Act.  As a United States Senator, he was a co-sponsor of the legislation. 

Over the past few weeks, members of the Cabinet have spoken eloquently and persuasively about the importance of passing the DREAM Act. 

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates has cited the precedent of non-citizens serving in the U.S. military;
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan has explained how the DREAM Act will enable the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020;
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated that passing the DREAM Act will free up important resources to allow her department to detain and deport criminals and those who pose a threat to our country;
  • Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has described the rich history of immigrants building companies that help spur American innovation and competitiveness;
  • Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has said that the DREAM Act would result in a stronger American workforce;  
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has described the importance of this legislation to the economic revitalization of rural communities; and
  • Attorney General Eric Holder has explained how the DREAM Act is grounded in our nation’s finest traditions and principles.

Like many members of the White House staff and the Cabinet, I am the child of immigrants. 

A few hours after the President was inaugurated on January 20, 2009, I walked into the White House as a member of the Obama Administration.  My first thought that wintry afternoon was not about the majesty of the building, the historic furniture and paintings, or even the size of my office.  My first thought was about my immigrant parents.

Both of my parents came to this country to attend college, and the opportunity provided by their education allowed them to embark on successful careers, buy a home, raise a family, send their children to college and graduate school, and eventually watch one of their sons work for the President of the United States. 

Only in a country founded on opportunity and equality – values that are at the heart of the DREAM Act – is such a story possible.  It’s the reason why the bill is supported by business and labor leaders, military commanders, law enforcement officers, educators, religious leaders, and people all across the political spectrum. 

Last week’s approval of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives was a historic and important step.  Eight Republicans voted together with Democrats to approve this important bill in the House.  Shortly, the Senate will have its chance to vote on the DREAM Act.  The President and his Cabinet are doing everything possible to ensure that the bill becomes law and that this country lives up to its highest ideals.

Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary