In a letter to President Obama, U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Majority Leader Harry Reid and colleagues noted the deportation of a record number of undocumented immigrants last year.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the recorded number went up from 359,000 to the seventh consecutive record high of 393,000.
Gillibrand urged President Obama to defer deportations of the select group of students who qualify for citizenship under the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).
“Current law unfairly punishes thousands of young people who grew up here and know only America as their home, holding them back from making a contribution to our country’s military and economy,” Gillibrand explained.
The letter indicated that the DREAM Act’s rigorous requirements would grant a small number of students legal status if they arrived in the United States when they were 15 years old or younger, lived in this country for at least five years, have good moral character, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and attend college or serve in the military for two years.
“These young people deserve better,” said Gillibrand. “They deserve a chance at the American dream – to work hard, get a good education, serve in the military, earn their way to legal status, help grow our economy and keep our country safe.”
Vanessa Lopez, president of the Latin American Students Organization (LASO) at St. John’s University, is especially concerned about what this means for Queens residents.
“There are many schools with large immigrant populations of students who are constantly asking themselves and their peers what their resources are for higher education,” said Lopez. “Many of these students get caught in the cracks and often get left behind because they do not have the means to seek out a higher education.”
Lopez has maintained that the act would be able to open doors to the future of alien minors.
“I believe the DREAM Act is a good step towards helping the youth who, through no fault of their own, have grown up to know this country as their primary home,” said Lopez. “If the DREAM Act were to be passed then their many years of worrying, studying, and wishing for that ‘American Dream’ would not be for nothing.”