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JUNE 17, 2002
7:10 PM
CONTACT:  National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Claudia Gómez (415) 378-2227
National Immigrant Student Day Action Presses Legislators for Right to Higher Education
Immigrant Students Lobby for Their Dreams
WASHINGTON - July 17 - Over 200 immigrant students and their supporters from across the country convened in Washington, D.C. today to urge their legislators to support higher education and legalization for immigrant students. Legislation pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would provide access to permanent residency for some students currently without immigration status allowing them to continue their education.

The proposed legislation – the Student Adjustment Act (H.R. 1918), in the House of Representatives, and the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, S. 1291) in the Senate – is a significant development that has received bi-partisan support and widespread encouragement from immigrant families, educators, and their communities. The proposals reinforce our country’s commitment to education and pledge to support immigrant student achieve their dreams.

Immigrant students made their message clear to legislators: their immigration status should not be an obstacle to pursue their dreams, including higher education. Most were brought here as children and have always called the U.S. their home. They are successful students who have graduated or will graduate from U.S. high schools. Now they are being denied access to higher education. As a result, their lives are filled with uncertainty and their future is put at risk as long as they are not allowed to regularize their immigration status.

The DREAM and Student Adjustment Acts

Under current law, most children are dependent on their parents for their immigration status and have no means of obtaining legal status even though they may have lived in the U.S. for many years. Additionally, federal law discourages states from providing in-state tuition or higher education assistance to these children. As a result, most of these students would be effectively prohibited from attending college because they cannot afford out-of-state tuition and do not qualify for federal or state financial aid or student loans. The pending legislation would create positive changes allowing immigrant students to continue their education.

In the House of Representative, the Student Adjustment Act (H.R. 1918) was introduced last year by Representative Chris Cannon (R-UT) and co-sponsored by representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). In the Senate the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 1291), sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) would, like H.R. 1918, eliminate the federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition, and provide an opportunity for immigrant students to obtain legal status. Sponsors of both bills spoke at the Immigrant Students Day press conference on Capitol Hill in support of the legislation.

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights joined with other national organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center, National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Friends Service Committee, and others to organize today’s activities in Washington.

Catherine Tactaquin of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights explained, “This legislation would give students the green light to further their education and realize their dreams to help their communities.” Angélica Salas from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles affirmed, “These are great kids and we here in this country can’t afford to prevent these young people from realizing their dreams.”

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