The immigration debate is back in the spotlight in Washington, DC. Last week, President Obama met with political, business, and religious leaders to discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform even though it is stalled in Congress. Regardless of the comprehensive debate, we have an opportunity to make a difference for young people raised in the United States by asking the Obama Administration to grant deferred action to students who would benefit from the DREAM Act in order to prevent their deportation.
The lack of congressional action has created a humanitarian crisis among young people in our communities. Thousands of children graduate from U.S. high schools each year without any hope of attaining a higher education, only because of something out of their control – they were brought to the United States illegally by their parents as children. Their lack of options is not only unfair to them, but also to the United States. It is an unnecessary loss of valuable talent to our country and our economy. These young people should have an opportunity to get right with the law and contribute to their communities to the best of their abilities by allowing them access to higher education.
President Obama has said on more than one occasion that his greatest disappointment in the last Congress was the failure to pass the DREAM Act. His dedication to the bill was evident when last fall, numerous cabinet and government officials (including Secretary Arne Duncan, Dr. Jill Biden and Tim Kaine) publicly supported the bill in speeches and in op-eds in the media.
Because the bill failed in Congress, many young people are desperately seeking options to legalize status but are losing hope even as they excel in our high schools, colleges, and universities. Earlier this month, 22 Senators sent a letter to President Obama with advice on how to implement deferred action as a fair and consistent policy to prevent the deportation of young people throughout the country who would be eligible for the DREAM Act. You may have heard of Eric Balderas, the undocumented student studying molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University who was granted deferred action, but there are also talented students like Saad Nabeel, a student on full scholarship to University of Texas at Arlington in electrical engineering who was deported to Bangladesh. Inconsistent application of deferred action is not fair, and it is time to do the right thing for all children raised in the United States.
While only Congress can pass the DREAM Act, President Obama can direct the Department of Homeland Security to implement a more fair policy on deferred action. What can you do? Write to the President and ask him to treat young people fairly and consistently. Visit the “Reaching for a DREAM” campaign page on Connecting Our World today to take action.