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Letter from Dennis Van Roekel on Dream Act

June 15, 2012

Dear President Obama and Secretary Napolitano:

On behalf of over 3 million public education employees, I would like to commend you for keeping the dreams of over 800,000 young Americans alive with your Administration’s announcement today.  Adjusting the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation practices will allow so many talented young Americans to live with the peace of mind that they will be able to fulfill their dreams, thus enriching the nation culturally and economically. 

As you are well aware, thousands of undocumented students each year graduate from U.S. high schools.  NEA members work with these students every day – among them are class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youth committed to bettering their communities.  Yet, because of enormous barriers created by their lack of legal status, many such students are unable to pursue higher education and live in constant fear that they will be taken away from their homes and the country they love.  For many of these young Americans, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known.  

As educators we spend our careers inspiring students to dream.  We encourage students to nurture their talents.  We spend extra hours helping students access academic supports, mentors, materials, applications for college and more.  We celebrate our students’ triumphs and provide support to them to overcome challenges.  This is why we often refer to our students as “our kids.”  And when any one of “our kids” cannot pursue his or her dream due to circumstances that our elected leaders in Congress could easily change, we share our students’ sense of loss, fear, and frustration.

Thank you for taking a bold step to ensure that students can pursue their dreams with the knowledge that their country’s highest leaders, their educators, and their families support them and are counting on them to continue to enrich this nation with their many talents.  Congratulations and well done. 

With deep gratitude, 

Dennis Van Roekel