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The Time for DREAM is Now

With the vote on the DREAM Act fast approaching, a big final push for passage.

Ed. Note: Read blog posts from seven top Obama Administration officials in support of the DREAM Act.

On Saturday morning, the Senate will finally vote on the DREAM Act – the DREAM Act, that was written by Republicans and Democrats close to ten years ago – that would give some of our best and brightest the ability to fully contribute to our country’s well-being by serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing a higher education.   

This bill is good for our nation, and it’s the right thing to do. Our leadership has worked hard to illustrate the many reasons for supporting this bill from both a security and competitiveness standpoint and the bipartisan support the bill got in the House of Representatives shows that this effort has had some success.   In fact, if the Senate passes the House bill, it will go straight to the President’s desk.  Whether it succeeds depends on whether or not there are Republicans in the Senate willing to stop playing politics with important issues. Voters sent a message to their leaders in Washington a few weeks ago.  They Democrats and Republicans to put aside partisan differences and bickering, and work in a bipartisan manner.  DREAM Act provides an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to come together, as they have on this issue before, and work to find a common-sense solution to a problem that everyone agrees must be fixed. We hope we’ll see more of that type of courage to stand up to the politics of the moment, and do what’s right for our country and for the next generation, not just the next election.  Hundreds of conservatives, religious leaders, university presidents, defense leaders, economists, business leaders, law enforcement, all believe this is the right thing to do.  After last week’s strong, bi-partisan vote in the House of Representatives, we hope that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate can come together and do what is right to pass the DREAM Act. 

5 Key Reasons we need the DREAM Act

  1. The DREAM Act will have important economic benefits. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the DREAM Act in its current form will cut thedeficit by $1.4 billion and increase government revenues by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years. According to a recent UCLA study, students that would be impacted by the DREAM Act could add between $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of careers, depending on how many ultimately gain legal status. This income is substantially higher than the income they would earn if they were unable to attend and complete a college education. In fact, research indicates that the average college graduate earned nearly 60 percent more than a high-school graduate. We have much to gain from doing right by these young people.
  2. The DREAM Act will contribute to our military’s recruitment efforts and readiness: Secretary of Defense Gates has written to DREAM Act sponsors citing the rich precedent of non-citizens serving in the U.S. military and stating that “the DREAM Act represents an opportunity to expand [the recruiting] pool, to the advantage of military recruiting and readiness.” The DREAM Act is also a part of the Department of Defense's 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.
  3. The DREAM Act will make our country more competitive in the global economy:  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated that passing the DREAM Act will allow“these young people to live up to their fullest potential and contribute to the economic growth of our country.” In particular, the DREAM Act will play an important part in the nation’s efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020,” something vital for America to remain competitive in today’s global economy.  Dozens of college Presidents and other educators from across the country support the DREAM Act for this reason. 
  4. The DREAM Act will allow our immigration and border security experts to focus on those who pose a serious threat to our nation’s security. Secretary Napolitano believes this targeted legislation provides a firm but fair way to deal with innocent children brought to the U.S. at a young age so that the Department of Homeland Security can dedicate their enforcement resources to detaining and deporting criminals and those who pose a threat to our country.
  5. The DREAM Act is supported by a broad coalition from across the country - conservatives, religious leaders, university presidents, defense leaders, economists, business leaders, law enforcement.   
Stephanie Valencia is an Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement