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Dear Editor:
The following Action Alert is being circulated at the request of the National Immigration Law Center.

Alert: Senate Judiciary Action on Undocumented Students this Thursday

If you live in one of the below-listed states, please contact your Senator right away. Urge him or her to vote in favor of S. 1291, the DREAM Act, at Thursday's mark-up because it is wrong to punish children for the actions of their parents.

Summary

The Senate Judiciary Committee will address the Hatch-Durbin student adjustment bill, S.1291, this Thursday, June 20. S. 1291, the (DREAM) Act, represents a bipartisan agreement by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to provide relief to immigrant students. Specifically, the DREAM Act would provide immigration relief to undocumented young people of good moral character who have spent five years or more in the U.S., who have graduated from high school here, and who are at least 12 years old on the date of enactment. Additionally, the Hatch-Durbin DREAM Act would eliminate the federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition to undocumented students.

The anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform has sent out an alert on this subject, so you can be sure that Senators will be hearing from their side. If you are from one of the below-listed states, you can help balance the anti-immigrant calls by calling your Senator right away.

Background

Each year, tens of thousands of undocumented students, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, graduate from U.S. high schools. Most were brought here at a very young age by their parents, and thus had no part in the decision to enter the country illegally. Almost all of them speak English and consider themselves Americans; they've grown up here and are here to stay, but their lives are filled with uncertainty and hold little future so long as they cannot regularize their immigration status.

Under current law, most children are dependent on their parents for their immigration status and have no means of obtaining legal status even though they may have lived in the U.S. for many years. Additionally, federal law discourages states from providing in-state tuition or higher education assistance to these children. As a result, most will be prevented from attending college because they cannot afford out-of-state tuition and do not qualify for Pell grants or student loans.

The current law is detrimental to everybody, not just to the children who are forced to defer their dreams. When significant numbers of talented students in our communities are prevented from reaching their full potential, we all suffer. Class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youngsters committed to bettering society have all been subject to the same harsh rules.

A bipartisan coalition in Congress strongly supports legislation to help these young people, and several serious proposals are now under consideration on Capitol Hill. Last year, Senators Hatch and Durbin introduced separate versions of legislation, and now they have merged their proposals into one, the DREAM Act, S. 1291. In addition to the Hatch-Durbin proposal in the Senate, several bills have been introduced in the House. Representative Chris Cannon (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1918, the most important of the House bills, which was cosponsored by Howard Berman (D-CA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). Like the DREAM Act, H.R. 1918 would eliminate the federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition. It would also legalize young people who have good moral character, have lived in the U.S. at least 5 years, are in school in 7th grade or above, and are under 21 years old.

Senate Judiciary Committee Members: Patrick Leahy, Chairman (D-VT) - (202) 224-4242; Edward Kennedy (D-MA) - (202) 224-4543; Joseph Biden (D-DE) - (202) 224-5042; Herbert Kohl (D-WI) - (202) 224-5653; Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - (202)224-3841; Russ Feingold (D-WI) - (202) 224-5323; Charles Schumer (D-NY) - (202) 224-6542; Richard Durbin (D-IL) - (202) 224-2152; Maria Cantwell (D-WA) - (202) 224-3441; John Edwards (D-NC) - (202) 224-3154; Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member (R-UT) - (202) 224-5251; Strom Thurmond (R-SC) - (202) 224-5972; Charles Grassley (R-IA) - (202) 224-3744; Arlen Specter (R-PA) - (202) 224-4254; Jon Kyl (R-AZ) - (202) 224-4521; Mike DeWine (R-OH) - (202) 224-2315; Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - (202) 224-4124; Sam Brownback (R-KS) - (202) 224-6521; Mitch McConnell (R-KY) - (202) 224-2541.

For further information, contact: National Immigration Law Center Los Angeles Office: 213-639-3900 (general calls and requests for materials) Washington, D.C. Office: 202-216-0261 (calls regarding policy issues).

National Immigration Forum


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