Polis Introduces “American DREAM Act” in Congress
Mar 27, 2009 -
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today announced the introduction of the American DREAM Act, a bipartisan proposal to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented college- and military-bound children who have lived most of their lives in this country.
“These kids are as American as anyone else, but for too long they have had their dreams shattered by an education system that ignores their good grades and hard work,” said Polis. “We are taught that if you work hard and never give up, you can do anything. The DREAM Act is will ensure that undocumented children who have grown up in the United States and studied in American schools can do the same.”
Polis joined Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and John Conyers (D-MI) as an original co-sponsor of the American DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Minors) Act, which was introduced in the U.S. House late Thursday. A companion measure was also introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) in the Senate.
Under the American DREAM Act, qualified students would be eligible for temporary legal immigration status upon high school graduation that would lead to permanent legal residency if they attend college or serve in the military. The act would also eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition rates to undocumented high school graduates. Despite meeting state residency requirements, immigrant students in most states are charged out-of-state or international tuition rates, which are often much higher than in-state tuition, effectively preventing them from going to college.
“Educational opportunity is a right, not a privilege,” continued Polis. “But the doors to opportunity have been shut for thousands of hard-working students who have been raised and educated in this country. Access to higher education is the key for both individual success and our nation’s economic growth and prosperity. We cannot afford to waste talent and deny dreams.”
States must enact tuition equity legislation in order to take advantage of the federal DREAM Act. Ten states have already enacted such legislation, including Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Colorado State Senator Chris Romer (D-Denver) has introduced legislation that would allow Coloradans to benefit from the DREAM Act.
“The DREAM Act is an enormously important piece of economic public policy,” said Romer. “When students have hope, they do great things; when they have hopeless options, they do hopeless things. My hope is that Colorado will be a leader in the implementation of the DREAM Act. I commend Congressman Polis for taking the lead with this legislation. He has been a tireless leader, working on behalf of undocumented students and giving them the hope and dreams they deserve.”