DREAM Act represents hope for immigrant youth

Nationalities Service Center has been supporting local students advocating for passage of the DREAM Act, a bill currently pending in Congress. The DREAM Act would provide legal status to youth brought to the U.S. as children who complete two years of college or military service. In the absence of a viable path to citizenship under existing laws, the DREAM Act represents the only hope for these students to pursue a future in the country in which they grew up.

In 2009, local activist Maria Marroquin and NSC’s staff attorney David Bennion organized a local group, DreamActivist Pennsylvania, to raise awareness of the issues undocumented youth face in Pennsylvania. Members of the group have sponsored or assisted with events at Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Swarthmore College, organized supporters to travel to Washington, D.C., for rallies and lobbying events, and participated in local events to promote immigration reform. In February, NSC co-sponsored showings of the film “Papers,” about the DREAM Act, at Arch Street United Methodist Church and Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church. The efforts of the activists and supporters resulted in several Philadelphia area members of Congress agreeing to co-sponsor the DREAM Act, including Senator Arlen Specter and Representatives Bob Brady, Chakka Fattah, and Joe Sestak.

DREAM Act organizers Maria and Armando meeting with Senator Casey in September.

DREAM Act organizers Maria and Armando meeting with Senator Casey in September.

NSC sponsored a phone bank at which supporters of the DREAM Act called Senators before the recent Senate vote on the bill. Unfortunately, the Senate voted not to move forward. However, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has announced his intent to bring the DREAM Act up for a vote after the elections this November. The future of the DREAM Act, and of the undocumented youth who would benefit from it, remains uncertain.

Please contact Nationalities Service Center to learn how you can support these deserving young people in their fight for recognition and equality in the U.S.

This article was featured in NSC’s Winter 2010 Newsletter.