Steps to help DREAM students must be swift and bold

LatinaLista — Statements of support for the continuation of the fight for passage of the DREAM Act continues to pour in from advocates, supporters and sympathizers. Today, the President met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

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According to a press release issued by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who is Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and who attended the meeting today at the White House with the President, along with, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to discuss immigration reform in the wake of the Republican-led filibuster that effectively killed the DREAM Act for this Congress:

We had a good meeting and were able to debrief about the very disappointing DREAM Act result in the Senate. The President shares our frustration that, despite winning strong bipartisan majorities in both chambers, a handful of Senators were able to block the DREAM Act. It is disillusioning that Republicans who once championed the DREAM Act hid behind procedural excuses or just plane flip-flopped and voted to kill this important bill and the hopes and dreams of so many students and young people.

The President knows that immigration reform and the DREAM Act are struggles that continue and he indicated he wanted to meet with us again right after the New Year to map out strategy. With the Republicans taking over in the House, whose leaders are strongly opposed to immigration and immigration reform, we will likely be playing a great deal of defense for the next two years. Obviously, the President’s veto pen is a crucial weapon against radically anti-immigrant policies.

At the same time, we cannot afford to be content with just a defensive struggle, fighting attempts to make legal immigration and legality for immigrants harder than they already are.

At the current rate, another 800,000 people will be deported by the time November 2012 comes around, which does nothing to fix our immigration system and rips apart communities and families and the very fabric of our society. The President understands how important this issue is to the Latino community so we have to work together to make progress as soon as possible.

The big question that everyone is scrambling to answer is how to make progress on a situation that with each passing day makes more young people ineligible to qualify for DREAM and pursuing their career goals to economically contribute to this society.

While the President and grassroots organizations try to come up with a strategy to go forward, it’s these young people who need something done now.

They need it in terms of education. They need it in terms of earning a living. They need it in terms of just LIVING!

The longer we make these young people wait the greater the risk that we will lose the person who was supposed to make a great scientific discovery or create the next innovative piece of technology that helps the world or broker negotiations between countries on the brink of nuclear war.

While it can be said that this kind of potential exists with all students, it is known that a percentage of these DREAM Act students are high achievers and have already proven themselves from K-12 — and are ones that do hold the future in their hands.

The steps to help them must be swift and bold. It must come from both politicians and the Latino community.

Our country can’t afford to lose out on the potential that exists within this group. No one should have to have compassion to realize this fact — just common sense and a vision for the greater good.

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