Statement by the President on the House Voting to Approve the DREAM Act

President Obama

President Barack Obama. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

I congratulate the House of Representatives, Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Berman, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other congressional leaders for taking the historic step of passing the DREAM Act today with a bipartisan vote. This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America. We are enriched by their talents and the success of their efforts will contribute to our nation’s success and security. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. I strongly urge the U.S. Senate to also pass the DREAM Act so that I can sign it into law as soon as possible.

This vote is a vitally important step to doing what the American people expect their policymakers to do: work together to address the nation’s most pressing problems.  The DREAM Act corrects one of the most egregious flaws of a badly broken immigration system. A flaw that forces children who have grown up in America, who speak English, who have excelled in our communities as academics, athletes, or volunteers to put their lives and talent on hold at a great cost to themselves and our nation.

I also congratulate the House for moving past the tired sound bites and false debates that have pushed immigration rhetoric into the extremes for far too long. The DREAM Act is not amnesty; it’s about accountability, and about tapping into a pool of talent we’ve already invested in. The DREAM Act is a piece of a larger debate that is needed to restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system broadly.  My administration will continue to do everything we can to move forward on immigration reform; today’s House vote is an important step in this vital effort.



DREAM Act is good for United States

Editorials and experts around the country are agreeing that the DREAM Act is good for our nation, and have called on Congress to pass it:

Former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican, said on a conference call on November 29th it would be a “shame” not to pass the bill in the lame duck.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said “[The Republican Party] needs to take a hard look at some of the positions they’ve been taking. We can’t be anti-immigration, for example. Immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants America would be like Europe or Japan with an aging population and no young people to come in and take care of it. We have to educate our immigrants. The DREAM Act is one way we can do this.”

Former Illinois Republican Governor Jim Edgar voiced his support for DREAM in an op-ed in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, writing: “A rational approach to comprehensive immigration reform should begin with the young people who were brought here as babies, toddlers and adolescents…A nation as kind as ours should not turn its back on them. Congress needs to support the sensible, humane approach embodied in legislation known as the Dream Act. The measure charts a rigorous path that undocumented youths must negotiate to gain legal status and qualify for citizenship, and supporting it would be both good government and good politics.”

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial that argues: “Restrictionists dismiss the Dream Act as an amnesty that rewards people who entered the country illegally. But the bill targets individuals brought here by their parents as children. What is to be gained by holding otherwise law-abiding young people, who had no say in coming to this country, responsible for the illegal actions of others? The Dream Act also makes legal status contingent on school achievement and military service, the type of behavior that ought to be encouraged and rewarded.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Student Locked Up for Spending 22 Years in the United States reports that

On a September morning, just before dawn, ICE came knocking on Fredd Reyes’ door. It was 5 am and Fredd was asleep after a long night of studying for his exam at Guilford Technical Community College that very same day. Instead of taking his exam, Fredd was rudely awakened from his sleep, handcuffed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and taken from his North Carolina home to North Georgia Detention Center.

Read more here.

Visit our new website

(Washington, D.C.) Oct. 1, 2010 – After nearly 12 months of planning and work, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is happy to announce the launch of our new website. In November 2009, JRS communications leaders from the International office, the U.S. office and the Eastern Africa office began collaborating with Omaha-based Adventure Studios to design and build the website.

This new website is designed to present information in a clear way with easy navigation, while highlighting the accompaniment, service and advocacy JRS undertakes worldwide with and on behalf of refugees and forcibly displaced people.

Cardinal: Arizona immigration law is ‘retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless’

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony has penned an article both elegant and blistering in response to recent anti-immigrant legislation passed in Arizona.

The Arizona legislature just passed the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law [SB 1070, awaiting the expected signature of Gov. Jan Brewer]. The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense.

What led the Arizona legislature to pass such a law is so obvious to all of us who have been working for federal comprehensive immigration reform: the present immigration system is completely incapable of balancing our nation’s need for labor and the supply of that labor. We have built a huge wall along our southern border, and have posted in effect two signs next to each other. One reads, “No Trespassing,” and the other reads “Help Wanted.” The ill-conceived Arizona law does nothing to balance our labor needs.

Read Cardinal’s Mahony’s full article here. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA agrees with Cardinal Mahony that our focus should not be on exclusion, but on “passing a federal comprehensive immigration law which is forward-looking and which will help balance our need for adequate labor forces in the coming years.”

LA Times: Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill a reminder of fascism

Last week, Arizona lawmakers passed a strict anti-immigrant bill (SB 1070) that makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper paperwork in Arizona. The law would require police officers, if they have “reasonable suspicion” that someone is undocumented, to ask for the person’s documents.

Arizona lawmakers passed anti-immigration legislation that is unique in its stringency and harshness. The bill would strongly encourage police officers to engage in racial profiling by ordering them to check the status of people they merely suspect – suspect – of being in the U.S. illegally. Even legal immigrants, in a move that harks back to fascist Europe, would be required to carry their papers at all times or risk arrest.

(Read the Los Angeles Times editorial about “A Hostile Arizona.”)

“Alto Arizona!” is a targeted call to action that is asking opponents of AZ SB 1070 to contact Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) to ask her to veto this bill!

The passage of SB 1070 by the House of Representatives in Arizona will have chilling repercussions if signed into law by Governor Brewer. The bill dramatically expands police powers to stop, question and detain individuals for not having proper identification, a move that will instigate racial profiling and fear and driving a wedge between groups.

Click here to Take Action! Urge the Arizona Governor to Veto the Bill.

L.A. Times: fewer Californians support cutting benefits for the undocumented

A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll has found a shift in California voter sentiment away from proposals to take away all social services from undocumented migrants, including access to schools and emergency medical treatment, from illegal residents.