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Know Your Rights
Source: Congressman Charles B. Rangel
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Rangel & Local Leaders Call On Senate To Pass The Dream Act

NEW YORK – Congressman Charles Rangel along with other elected leaders, faith-based organizations and community activists on Monday urged the U.S. Senate to vote on the DREAM ACT this week before breaking for the holidays.

“The House did the right thing by bringing this issue to a vote last week and so should the Senate,” said Rangel during a 10 a.m. press conference at Gregorio Luperon High School (501 W. 165th Street in Washington Heights). “The faster these hard working students are given the opportunity to become professionals, enter the workforce and pay taxes, the stronger this nation will be now and in the future.”

Rangel was joined by dozens of students and parents as well Gregorio Luperon HS Principal Juan Villar, New York State Senator-elect Adriano Espaillat, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and representatives from the office of New York Assembly Member-elect Guillermo Linares, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform and Make the Road New York.

“There’s a lot of talent in this room,” said NYS Senator-elect Espaillat. “We don’t have to go around the world to find the next great scientist who will find a cure for AIDS because they are right here.”

One of those was Olga Reyes, an 18-year-old City College student and member of the Make the Road’s Youth Power Project.

“My dream has been one to earn a degree and continue to learn,” said Reyes. “This week this dream can become a reality if the US Senate decides to put politics aside and pass the DREAM Act.”

City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez agreed.

“Senate Republicans need to move beyond partisan politics and start passing sensible policy. Their blanket refusal to participate in anything but tax cuts is shortsighted and damaging to our future as a nation. If we do not work together and if we do not invest in our young people, much less give them an opportunity to contribute to society, then we will never move forward as a nation and the American people will continue to suffer.” The DREAM ACT, which passed the House of Representatives last Wednesday by a bipartisan vote of 216 to 198, would allow those under the age of 29 who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors a chance to earn legal status and contribute to the nation’s well-being by serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or pursuing a college education. A cross section of American society, from business groups to spiritual leaders have called for its passage.

“We applaud Congressman Rangel and all House members who stayed true to the values of our nation and its diverse faith communities: justice, fairness, compassion, generosity, and welcoming the stranger. Now it’s up to the Senate to do the right thing. The dreams of millions of young people hang in the balance,” said Diane Steinman and Lisa Sharon Harper, Co-chairs of New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform.

“Supporting the Dream Act means supporting immigrants, small businesses, and most importantly supporting innovation,” said small business owner Carlos Bustamante, a member of Make the Road’s Small Business United, project. “It is the best investment The United States of America can make during these economic times.”

District Leader Myra Linares encouraged the students to get involved in the movement to expand greater educational opportunities, not just to immigrants but all Americans. DREAM Act student activist, Veronica Piedras, agreed.

“I know if we work together, we can ensure the future of this nation and continue to share in the dream of universal education,” said Piedras.

Other officials who could not make the press conference also released statements of support. “These students are not asking for a handout, they are just asking for the opportunity to help make this nation stronger,” said former Commissioner for Immigration Affairs and NYS Assembly Member-elect Guillermo Linares. “What we are urging the Senate to do is stand strong against the current national mood of fear and extremism and pass this bill. It’s the right thing, not just morally but also economically.”

“As an original co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, I am deeply disappointed that students who work hard and play by the rules are being denied the opportunity they deserve to get a good education and earn their way to legal status,” said New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand. “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is publically advocating for this legislation, calling it critical to our national security. We can’t stop here. We must quickly come together and move forward.”

Although some are skeptical of the bill’s passage this year, Rangel said that it was important to continue to send a message to the nation that the benefits of this bill go far beyond those who would eventually see their status legalized.

“At a time when this country is desperately recruiting scientists, researchers and teachers, we find people that were raised in the United States and for all practical purposes are Americans, being denied an opportunity to help our nation maintain its greatness,” added Rangel. “We have already invested in their high school education and now they want to pay us back by becoming professionals. Now is the time not to retreat, but to move forward and support the DREAM ACT.”