‘The Country is Shooting Itself in the Foot,’ Asserts Human Rights Organization

(Washington D.C.) -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today urged the U.S. Congress to pass The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act during the lame-duck session, calling its passage critical to upholding the human rights of undocumented youth who have lived in the United States most of their lives and have a proven track record as conscientious students and members of society.

In recent weeks, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have publicly committed to bringing the DREAM Act up for a vote.  The White House also issued a statement declaring, "The President and [Congressional Hispanic Caucus] leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act." But many legislators refuse to vote in favor unless there is a significant increase in funding for border enforcement.

“It is unconscionable that this landmark legislation has not become law in the nine years since it was first introduced,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA.  “While working toward their dreams, thousands of promising young people live in fear of detention and deportation. Most will be excluded from college education because they are denied in-state tuition and scholarships.  Not only is the United States trampling their rights by not providing the opportunity to pursue college, the country is shooting itself in the foot as it prevents accomplished young men and women from providing considerable contributions to the country they call home.”

The DREAM Act would provide conditional legal status to immigrant students if they finish high school and attend college or join the military for two years. It would also allow immigrant students access to higher education by returning to states the authority to determine who qualifies for in-state tuition. Students who complete all requirements will have the opportunity to permanently legalize their immigration status. 

“Until this congressional session, the DREAM Act was a widely supported bipartisan piece of legislation because lawmakers recognized that children should not be punished for the decisions of their parents,” said Sarnata Reynolds, AIUSA’s advocacy and policy director, Refugee and Migrant Rights.  “The bill passed the Senate with the support of Republicans and Democrats four times over the last nine years. The United States has long been a champion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to education, yet the country is undermining this right."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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