For Immediate Release
New Congress, New Hope for Immigrant Students
[Los Angeles, CA] With the start of a new Congress, immigrant students and their supporters have eagerly anticipated the introduction DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Finally, introduced on March 6 in the Senate and on March 1 in the House of Representatives, S. 774 and H.R.1275 is an urgently needed bi-partisan federal legislation that would allow undocumented immigrant students a chance at higher education, a path to citizenship, and a way to give back to their community and country.
Youth are at the heart and soul of the bill. For the past 6 years, immigrant youth and their friends have been organizing for the DREAM Act. Namu Klessig, a youth leader from the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center's youth group FYSH (Fighting Youth Shouting Out for Humanity) believes that "the DREAM Act will allow 65,000 high school graduates a year the opportunity to live their dreams without unfair laws getting in the way. It will finally give these students an education that everyone should have."
Youth across the country regardless of being US-born or immigrant, have come together again with a commitment to working towards the passage of the bill. A 17 year old high school student from the Los Angeles area, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect himself and his family, is a youth leader from the Korean Resource Center's youth group ORAnGE (Organize, Rise Up, Act n' Get Empowered). "Many undocumented students, even if they are good at studying or have better grades, don't have the same opportunities as people with citizenship," he stated. "Because I am undocumented, my future is uncertain. I constantly worry what will happen if people at my school find out my status. I want to study without these worries, but it's really hard."
"I have friends and friends of friends who have their lives halted because they don't have a single piece of paper. The DREAM Act would allow them to just live their lives," added Hannah Yoon from YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community's youth group MIST (Modern Immigration Support Team).
In the 110th Congress, the larger immigration reform debate will once again come to the forefront of legislative priorities. But "contrary to what some may believe, the DREAM Act is much more than just immigration," said Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC Executive Director. "We have an obligation to young people to provide hope for the future. Every year DREAM does not pass, we break this obligation; we cannot let this happen again. This is the year that DREAM must pass."
Co-sponsoring in the Senate are Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). Addition co-sponsors are Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barack Obama (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Larry Craig (R-ID), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). In the House, Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).