Ed. Note: This is the seventh in a series of posts from top Administration Officials on the importance of the DREAM Act. Read Education Secretary Arne Duncan's post here, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's contribution here, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's post here, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's here, a post from Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, here, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack here. This post cross-posted from the DOJ blog.
As the son of an immigrant, I grew up in New York City with a deep appreciation for the ideals that, since America’s earliest days, have defined our nation. Like so many who have set out for America’s shores, my father and both of my mother’s parents arrived here from Barbados in search of a better life and greater opportunity – for themselves and their children.
Looking back, I can see that their dream was the American Dream. But looking around, I can see that, today, this dream is fading for too many deserving young people who, through no fault of their own, lack documentation – and, therefore, are being denied opportunity.
That is why the DREAM Act must be passed.
This critical legislation would provide new pathways for service and learning. And it would bring extraordinary individuals out of the shadows, where – despite their efforts to contribute and their determination to succeed – they have been relegated for far too long.
Like my father – who served as a Master Sergeant in the United States Army – many young and courageous Americans want nothing more than to strengthen their nation and to improve their own futures. Why should we say no? Why should someone who grew up in America, speaks English, holds degrees from one or more of our schools, and shows – time and again – a commitment to citizenship have to forgo a productive future?
There is no good reason.
The DREAM Act would do more than expand opportunities for learning and public service for young people across the country. It would also benefit every American by helping establish a new generation of young people grounded in our nation’s finest traditions and and its founding principles.
One of those principles is equal opportunity. Today, for so many, that opportunity now rests in the hands of Congress. And so I urge our elected representatives to act. I urge them to do the right thing. Put simply, I urge Congress to allow us to continue to tell a story about our country that makes us all proud – as my father was – to be American.
Eric Holder is Attorney General of the United States