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Letter to the Senate on final Passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)

June 26, 2013

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to VOTE YES on final passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). NEA applauds the bipartisan work done, starting with the “Gang of Eight,” to bring this historic bill to the brink of passage. The bipartisan support showed to date is a reflection of the magnitude of the issue and we commend the Senate for working in this manner.  While we are disappointed by some of the compromises made to advance the bill this far, we nonetheless offer our strong support for the core principles the bill advances, including providing 11 million aspiring Americans a pathway to citizenship. Votes associated with this bill may be included in NEA’s Legislative Report Card on the 113th Congress. 

Educators applaud S.744 for addressing key priorities critical to our students, their families and our communities — a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans, promoting family unity, and inclusion of the DREAM Act. Passage of this bill would mean children no longer having to live in fear as they and their families leave the shadows.   

The critical element in this bill is that it provides a 13-year pathway to citizenship. This provision is reflective of the very ideals America was founded upon.  The pathway to citizenship not only secures the future of an individual, but also ensures mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers can stay united.  S. 744 improves current law by prioritizing family unity by allowing for immediate reunification of green cardholders with their spouse and minor children and takes important step to secure the welfare of children often indirectly impacted by enforcement actions. 

The inclusion of the most progressive DREAM Act provision to date is monumental. The 5-year expedited pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers promotes educational attainment and recognizes the value these people hold as individuals and as part of our future as a country. In addition to the pathway to citizenship, these Dreamers will now have access to some types of federal financial aid which helps puts them on par with their peers and makes post-secondary education a realistic possibility in their lives.  Educators know that telling a student their future is limitless is the key to unlocking their potential; the DREAM Act provision is that key. 

Immigration policy profoundly impacts NEA members and their students. Educators have witnessed for far too long the impact that the current immigration system has had on students, their families, and communities. Educators see aspiring Americans every day in their classrooms and schools. We are all better for having these hardworking people as contributing members of our communities.

At its essence, America is about citizenship: the right to vote, the right to serve in public office and the responsibility to defend America’s values and the Constitution, which guarantees equality, justice, freedom and fairness.   Educators welcome the most serious plan to fix our nation’s broken immigration system in years.  We strongly urge you to VOTE YES on the landmark Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744.

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations