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Local Government Leaders Call on Congress for DREAM Act

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS CALL ON CONGRESS TO ENABLE DREAM STUDENTS TO GIVE BACK

DREAM Students Are Eager to Fulfill this Country’s Investment in Them

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Thursday, December 3, 2010

CONTACT: 

Adela de la Torre, NILC, 213-674-2832, delatorre@nilc.org

LOS ANGELES -- Yesterday morning, elected officials from California, Florida, Maine, and Texas asked Congress to allow undocumented students to use their education and skills to benefit their communities by passing the DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would provide undocumented young women and men who were brought to the U.S. as young children a pathway to U.S. citizenship if they attend college or perform military service.  Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will likely vote on this legislation within the next two weeks.

“They are American in their spirit, American in their hearts, and Americans in their minds,” said Sylvia R. Garcia, commissioner of Harris County, Texas, and president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).  “These children, through no fault of their own, have been brought to this country.  They know nothing but being Americans.  Part of the American Dream starts with the basic building blocks of a good education.  It builds a good workforce, it builds a good economy, and it’s vital to the vitality of any local government.” 

“We’ve made a huge investment in these children,” said Juan C. Zapata, Florida state representative and chairman of the NALEO Educational Fund Board.  “How did this issue become an issue of Republicans and Democrats?  I don’t understand.  I mean, here are children who have done nothing wrong, who, again, have done everything they’ve been asked to do, who have played by the rules, who have performed well, and want to contribute and to continue improving themselves, not only for them and their families but also for our communities and our country.  And we’re taking away that opportunity . . . . I really hope Senator Lemieux will do the right thing.” 

Arkansas DREAM student Juan Manuel stated, “When I came here to this country, I faced a struggle right off the bat. . . . I remember my dad’s words:  If people weren’t willing to hire me, then for me to hire them.  So at the age of 15, I started my own business.”  Manuel added, “We [in my family] have always strived to contribute to the community and help others in the way that we would like to be helped. . . . Many of these students that I talk to in organizing, they want to start their own businesses.  They are just like me.  They want to be entrepreneurs, they want to contribute back, they want to give back to the country that they’ve known and the cities they’ve grown up in.  I think that by the DREAM Act passing would allow them to do this. . . . We will contribute.  We will give back.  It’s very difficult as a DREAMer to see so much potential around me -- even in myself -- that if the DREAM Act doesn’t pass, all that potential will pretty much go to waste.”

See more information on the DREAM Act.

Listen to the telephonic press conference (MP3).

To speak with an expert about the DREAM Act, please call Adela de la Torre at 213-674-2832.

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