Patty Murray joined the leaders of education unions on Tuesday to call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act, S. 1615. The bill would offer a pathway to lawful permanent residency for an estimated 1.7 million so-called DREAMers, according to a recent analysis by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute. The DREAM Act would provide the pathway to legal status for people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age.
“I am so disappointed that President Trump manufactured this crisis and left so many young people feeling in limbo,” Murray said on a call with reporters. The DREAM Act has the support of two key teachers unions because an estimated 14,000 DACA-eligible individuals work in educational, training or library professions, according to MPI.
The Murray event was followed on Wednesday with a Capitol Hill press conference that included NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) both lead sponsors of the House Dreamers Act bill.
They were joined by some of the young people most affected by the President’s actions: Hugo Arreola is a “DACAmented” educator from Phoenix, AZ, Vicente Rodriguez is a DACAmented student and educator from Riverside, CA, Lee-Ann Graham is a DACAmented student and Paraprofessional for the New York City Department of Education. Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, president of the 3 million-member National Education Association, called for passage of the DREAM Act without the inclusion of other measures, such as a border wall. “We need a clean DREAM Act,” she said. ”
According to a recent survey, 97 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed or enrolled in school. More than a third of Dreamers are between the ages of 16 and 20. A Center for American Progress analysis, based on a survey of more than 3,000 DACA recipients in 46 states (the largest survey of DACA recipients to date), found that 45 percent of them are in school, and of those who are in school, 72 percent are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.