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Letter to the Senate supporting an amendment on the DREAM Act expected to be offered to the DoD bill

September 17, 2007

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge your support for an amendment to be offered by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Hagel (R-NE) and Lugar (R-IN) that would add the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to the Department of Defense authorization bill (H.R. 1585). Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

Each year, over 50,000 undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years graduate from U.S. high schools. Among these students are class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youth committed to bettering their communities. Yet, current federal law restricts states' ability to provide in-state tuition or higher education assistance to these students, who often have no recourse to regularize their immigration status. As a result, many such students are unable to pursue higher education and many drop out of high school because they know they will be unable to continue on to college. The loss to these students, and to society as a whole, is significant.

The DREAM Act will allow states to determine their own residency rules, thereby permitting them to offer in-state tuition and higher education benefits to undocumented students. In addition, the bill will allow undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years and demonstrate good moral character to obtain special immigration relief.

The DREAM Act is narrowly tailored. It would apply only to individuals brought to the U.S. at least five years ago as children, who have grown up here, and who have remained in school and out of trouble. They could get a green card six years after graduating from high school if during that time they continue on to college or serve in the military. The bill will also have significant fiscal benefits for states and local communities. For example, a 30-year-old immigrant who graduates from college will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year than if she had dropped out of high school. State and local taxpayers have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school and deserve to get a return on their investment.

Again, we urge your support for this important amendment.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy