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Letter to the House on Immigration Reform

July 23, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we would like to offer the following views in connection with today’s hearing, “Addressing the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children.”

The United States is a nation of immigrants, and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. We urge the House to move swiftly and support common-sense immigration reform that:

  • Creates a realistic path to citizenship for all the aspiring Americans who call the United States home. When drafting legislation, we urge you to consider the need to ensure a fair process that takes into consideration the ways in which aspiring Americans contribute to our country, and how they help strengthen our economy.
  • Preserves the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional. Family unity plays a critical role in student success. Yet growing numbers of public school students live in fear that our nation’s immigration policies will break up their families, forcing them to choose between their country and their loved ones—mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Family-based immigration is essential to keeping America strong.
  • Creates an expedited path to citizenship for students brought to the United States as children. Our broken immigration system is draining America of the talent and resources this nation needs to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. Under current law, undocumented students can be denied access to in-state tuition, federal loans, and health benefits; as a result, many are unable to pursue higher education. Yet a 30-year-old immigrant who graduates from college pays $5,300 more in taxes and costs the government $3,900 less annually than a high school dropout. A DREAM Act would provide an expedited path to citizenship for students brought to the United States as children, by no fault of their own, who graduate from high school or earn a G.E.D. An expedited path to citizenship for our littlest aspiring Americans—children too young to have graduated from high school—on a par with a DREAM Act would help ensure equity within families.

Immigration policy is a top priority for educators because it has a profound impact on their students and students’ families. Educators encounter aspiring Americans in their classrooms and schools every day. They are students, friends, and neighbors—people who moved here to put food on the table, to provide for their families, and for the uniquely American promise of freedom and opportunity. We are all better for having these hardworking, aspiring Americans as contributing members of our communities.

NEA urges the House to act swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion. We look forward to working with you to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality at last.

Sincerely,

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations