Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11062872 (posted Jun. 28, 2011)"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
George Tzamaras / Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628
WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) celebrates the first-ever Senate hearing on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, commonly known as the DREAM Act, held this morning. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired the hearing and witnesses included Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, Ola Kaso, a student from Warren, MI, and Lt. Colonel (retired) Margaret Stock who is an AILA member.
"That the Senate Judiciary Committee dedicated its time and resources to a hearing on the DREAM Act shows that its leaders are very serious about this legislation and about helping the young people who would benefit from its relief," said AILA President Eleanor Pelta.
The DREAM Act would give thousands of young immigrants who have grown up in the United States an opportunity to pursue the American dream. The DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives last November during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, but, while it had majority support in the Senate, that body did not produce the super-majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles.
"The hearing focused on the individuals who would be affected by this important piece of legislation. These are honor roll students, aspiring doctors, teachers, and soldiers, and the next generation of entrepreneurs in America. The DREAM Act will provide this group with the opportunity to give back to the country they call home by helping to improve the U.S. economy, enhance our national security, and continue the education they started here as children," said Pelta.
"We are currently in a lose-lose situation. The kids lose their dreams of success in America and we lose their talent, skill, and motivation," said Margaret Stock. "Instead of advancing to college or the military and giving back to the country that they love, these great young people live in fear of deportation."
AILA has supported the DREAM Act since its first introduction in the 107th Congress. The legislation would help tens of thousands of undocumented young people who have spent their childhoods in America to obtain legal status by meeting certain criteria: They must have come to the U.S. before they turned 16, be under the age of 35, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, graduated from high school or passed an equivalency exam, have "good moral character" and either attend college or enlist in the military for two years.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.