President Chopp Endorses DREAM Act
by Nancy Nicely
President Rebecca Chopp today shared with the College community a letter in support of the DREAM Act. In sharing her letter, Chopp cited the passionate advocacy work of a number of students on behalf of the bill, which would enable undocumented immigrant students who entered the country at age 15 and under to enter college and the military, as well as qualify for low-interest student loans and federal work-study opportunities.
The letter, addressed to Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter and Representative Joe Sestak, reads as follows:
"I write to urge your support of the Development, Relief and Education Minors Act (DREAM) Act, most recently introduced on March 26, 2009 in the Senate. The DREAM Act permits undocumented immigrant students who came into the country before they were 16 to enter college and the military and to qualify for low interest student loans and federal work-study opportunities.
"Right now these young people have no legal rights, although they did not enter the United States by their own choosing. They came into this country with parents or guardians while still minors and many now find themselves in the difficult position of struggling to pursue a college degree after graduating from high school because they do not have the financial means to do so. If they want to give back to this country through military service they are forbidden from doing so. If they wish to pursue federal work-study opportunities they are forbidden from doing so. This bill's intention is to provide them with the opportunity to pursue higher education, to reward them for their hard work and contributions to society, and to ensure that no child in America is denied their dream of a better life if they are willing to work for it.
"The DREAM Act provides a 'conditional residency' status to undocumented immigrants who are high school graduates and have lived in this country for at least five years. During the conditional residency period they must either complete an associate's degree at a two-year institution, a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution, or complete two years of military service. Upon fulfilling any one of these three conditions, the student will then be able to petition to become a U.S. citizen.
"In addition to the moral imperative to help all deserving young people reach their full potential, the bill offers a practical benefit. The DREAM Act extends our country's investment in these young people since they have already received their primary and secondary education through our public schools. Likely outcomes of its enactment include decreased high school drop-out rates and increased revenues from taxes paid by a more educated immigrant population.
"Our country has long held that those willing to work hard and give back to their community should be afforded the opportunity to pursue their dreams. As a campus community we are committed to the same principles. The DREAM Act conjoins our national and educational goals to benefit a segment of our population that can contribute significantly to this country's future. I am pleased to offer Swarthmore's support of this bill."