Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 25, 2007–Today, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), issued a strong statement of disappointment at the failed vote for the Dream Act. The Dream Act failed cloture by a vote of 52-44.
“It is fundamentally unfair to punish undocumented youth for decisions made by adults many years ago. By failing to pass the DREAM Act, our Senate has chosen not to legally recognize children that committed no crime other than obey their parents,” said USHCC Chairman David C. Lizarraga. “We are deeply disappointed with those Senators that decided to punish children for the acts of their parents, which were motivated by economic need. In addition, we are equally dismayed that the Administration would claim this bill as an “amnesty.” Those are generally the claims of anti-immigrant advocates and are uncharacteristic to a President that has been otherwise supportive on immigration reform.”
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) is bipartisan legislation sponsored in the Senate by Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) — and in the House by Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) — that addresses the situation faced by young people who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented immigrant children, but who have since grown up in the U.S. educational system.
“These young people living in the United States should be given the opportunity to pursue higher education and participate in our society, a society they call home.” said USHCC President and CEO Michael L. Barrera. “Our country has invested countless millions towards investing in the education of these children, and we should not throw them and this investment away. These students may very well be the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and small business leaders. We cannot keep limiting valedictorians to just a high school diploma because of immigration status.”
Each year, approximately 65,000 youth raised in the U.S. would qualify for the DREAM Act’s benefits upon graduating from high school. Students range from honor roll status, star athletes, talented artists, homecoming queens, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and U.S. soldiers. They are young people who have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives and desire only to call this country their home. Even though they were brought to the U.S. years ago as children, they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and often live in constant fear of detection by immigration authorities.
Ten states across the country have established laws that allow those without a legal status to pay in-state tuition for their education at colleges and universities. However, it is still very difficult for students to complete their post-secondary education without any financial aid. The few that do beat the odds and manage to earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, are currently stuck without a work permit or an avenue that would adjust their immigration status and allow them to become the doctors, teachers, and lawyers they wish to be.
About the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of more than two million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States, which earn more than $350 billion annually. It also serves as the umbrella organization for 200 local Hispanic chambers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
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