Letter to the House on Supplemental Appropriations Measure (H.R. 5230)
July 30, 2014
On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), and the students they serve, we urge you to VOTE NO on the House supplemental appropriations measure (H.R. 5230), and to instead ensure the safety and well-being of the impacted children, including child refugees, most of whom come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.
The House supplemental appropriations measure would only provide $659 million to address the border crisis at a time when we are in the midst of a human tragedy that underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Based on the needs assessment of the impacted federal agencies, this is not adequate funding and support necessary to ensure the security and well-being of these child refugees — including access to education — and the myriad of challenges they face. These are children from Central America who are fleeing violence and coming to the United States in search of safety. We should respond to them with our finest ideals, not our worst fears.
America’s own laws as well as international standards require us to make sure the best interests of children are paramount, that those in genuine need of safe haven do not get sent back to the violence they escaped, and that all those who claim to need protection have a full and fair proceeding—with legal representation—before a life-or-death decision is made. Instead, H.R. 5230 would drastically accelerate the processing of child refugees to seven days, which raises alarming due process concerns.
We must treat these children humanely, with dignity. Those who are fleeing violence need protection. We must keep the safety and security of the children at the forefront of our minds. Instead of imprisoning them in detention centers while they are in the United States, we should release them to families and community groups who can care for them and ensure they follow through with their court proceedings.
The United States is a nation of immigrants, and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. NEA supports common-sense immigration reform that:
- Creates a realistic path to citizenship for aspiring Americans who call the United States home. 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. We urge you to take into consideration the many ways in which aspiring Americans contribute to our country and help strengthen our economy.
- Preserves the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional. Family unity plays a critical role in student success. We urge you to consider what it means to be a child living in fear that our nation’s immigration policies will break up your family, forcing you to choose between your country and your loved ones—mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.
- Creates an expedited path to citizenship for students brought to the United States as children. Such students entered this country through no fault of their own. We urge you to support the DREAM Act to provide an expedited path to citizenship for those who graduate from high school or earn a GED and an expedited path to citizenship on a par with the DREAM Act for our littlest aspiring Americans—children too young to have graduated from high school.
As educators, we see aspiring Americans in our classrooms, schools and communities every day. We urge you to VOTE NO on H.R. 5230 and ensure that these child refugees are treated humanely and with compassion.
Director of Government Relations