MEDIA RELEASE: Coalition hails DREAM Act's passage through the House, says it could "benefit our entire country"

Coalition hails DREAM Act's passage through the House, says it could "benefit our entire country"
Now, the Senate must follow the House's lead, observers say

WASHINGTON (Dec. 9, 2010) -- The DREAM Act, a bill passed by the U.S. House Wednesday night and headed to the U.S. Senate, would help communities in North Carolina thrive while allowing young people throughout the country to achieve their dreams. A coalition of North Carolina groups hailed its passage as a significant step toward justice for immigrants and progress for America.

Adelante Education Coalition, a coalition of nonprofits and community organizations working on issues that affect Latino and migrant students and their families in North Carolina, urges North Carolina's U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan to vote for the bill. Adelante believes the U.S. Senate should follow the House's lead, saying that the DREAM Act would benefit all Americans.

"The contributions of these young people will benefit our entire country," said Graig Meyer, coordinator of Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate, a comprehensive support program for students in the Chapel Hill - Carrboro City Schools. "They all dream of making America a greater nation."

The DREAM Act would allow certain young undocumented people who want to contribute to America have a path to citizenship.

Thousands of young people in North Carolina will be impacted by this common-sense legislation, including members of the Adelante Coalition.

"Our time has come. We cannot wait any longer," said Diego Lopez, a Student Action with Farmworkers student organizer from McDowell County. "This impacts me, but it's not just my dream, it's millions of dreams."

The DREAM Act - which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act - has several requirements. A person must have entered the country before the age of 16; graduated high school or obtained a GED; have good moral character with no criminal record; and have at least five years of continuous presence in the U.S.

If someone meets those criteria, the DREAM Act would provide a window for them to either attend college towards obtaining a degree or complete at least two years of military service. If all of these conditions are met, the person would have the opportunity to adjust their conditional permanent residency status eventually to U.S. Citizenship.

Observers say that hardworking young people who want to serve their country in careers requiring a college education or through military enlistment should have an opportunity to contribute to North Carolina and the nation.

"This is a key piece of civil rights legislation for the new century," said Ronald Garcia-Fogarty, a community organizer with El Centro Hispano in Durham, "and it comes at a time where North Carolina needs the economic contributions of all the students we educate."

The Adelante Coalition includes AMEXCAN (Association of Mexicans in North Carolina), Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate, Center for Participatory Change, Coalition for College Access, El Centro Hispano, El Pueblo, Latin American Coalition, NC DREAM Team, NC Justice Center, NC Latino Coalition, NC Society of Hispanic Professionals, and Student Action with Farmworkers. More info at http://www.adelantenc.org.
 

For More Information, Contact: Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615; Dani Martinez-Moore, NC Justice Center, dani@ncjustice.org, 919-856-2178Graig Meyer, Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate, gmeyer@chccs.k12.nc.us, 919-824-4180