Dear majority and minority leaders:
We are a group of alumni of TheDream.US Scholarship program, the largest college access and success program in the nation providing DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States at a young age, with the chance and opportunity to go to college.
On behalf of the undersigned students, faculty, staff, administrators, and allies in higher education, we write to urge you to:
• Cosponsor and vote for the Dream Act of 2021 (S.264), a bipartisan bill to stabilize DACA and provide a roadmap to citizenship for DREAMers. Introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), this bill represents a continued bipartisan effort to bring relief to upwards of 1.7 million individuals so that they may freely live, work, and contribute to their communities in the country they call home.
• Support an amendment to include of recipients of TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) in relief under the Dream Act, consistent with its previous introduction as the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R.6).
In 2018, 454,000 students in higher education were undocumented, 216,000 of which had or were eligible for DACA. Roughly 98,000 more undocumented students graduate from a U.S. high school every year. Nationwide, more than 200,000 DACA recipients stood at the frontline alongside American essential workers to uphold the safety, health and wellness of all citizens during the pandemic. Among those providing services are more than 640,000 DACA recipients and approximately 1.3 million more eligible to apply.
Polling shows that support for DREAMers gaining permanent legal status continues to be strong. A recent poll from February 2021 found that 83 percent of Americans (and 66 percent of Republicans) favored “allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the United States and eventually apply for citizenship.”
In addition to a long-awaited roadmap to citizenship, we in higher education are thrilled to highlight that the Dream Act repeals Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). Section 505 has long hampered states’ ability to consider noncitizen state residents for benefits like in-state tuition or Pell Grants without being forced to offer such benefits to every U.S. citizen regardless of state residency. The repeal would restore state autonomy and discretion to create policy that nurtures higher education to the benefit of all state residents.
Over the past four years, over 400,000 TPS and DED holders have weathered threats to their legal status, and many more are still at risk. Protection for this group not only benefits those with temporary status, but also their families and loved ones. Approximately 620,000 people in the United States live with a family member protected by TPS, including 279,000 U.S.-citizen children. Over 130,000 TPS holders also work as essential workers, keeping our hospitals staffed and our grocery stores stocked through a national health crisis. In our fight for a more just, equitable, and humane immigration system, we cannot leave TPS and DED holders behind. We urge you to support an amendment to include TPS and DED holders in the Dream Act.
We appreciate all efforts made thus far to create a healthy immigration system and protect all members of our campus communities, including undocumented youth and individuals with temporary status. We respectfully request that you cosponsor and vote for the Dream Act of 2021 as the first of many steps toward immigration reform. We also strongly urge you to do right by the TPS and DED holders in our community and support an amendment to include them in this legislation. Thank you for your time, and please feel free to direct any questions or comments to TheDream.US Alumni Council at TheDream.US.AC@gmail.com
Please join us in signing this letter to show support for our fellow Americans.