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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Supports the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) applauds Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his announcement that he plans to offer the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S.729) as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill. We call on bipartisan support of the measure which is expected to receive a vote by next week.

Educational attainment is one way that Latinas can have access to information, resources and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions.  NLIRH extends its support to the DREAM Act and the young immigrant activists and legislators who have worked to bring this bill to the forefront.

In short, the DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States to step out of the shadows, pursue education, and accomplish their goals.

The DREAM Act, introduced by Senator Richard Durbin, is a bill that would give undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before age 16 a path to citizenship.  Youth who have lived in the United States for at least five years and have been “person[s] of good moral character” have the opportunity to apply for conditional permanent residency for up to eight years, during which they are expected to complete either two years of a bachelor’s degree program in good standing or two years of military service that have not resulted in dishonorable discharge.  An undocumented youth who adjusts status to lawful permanent residence would then be eligible for student loans and the work-study program, programs for which undocumented persons are not currently eligible.  The completion of either of these gives undocumented youth the opportunity to remove the conditional status of their permanent residency, thereby gaining legal permanent residency and the ability to apply for citizenship when eligible and if desired.

NLIRH understands that the passage of the DREAM Act would be a tremendous accomplishment.  However, we encourage lawmakers to review several points of concern in the DREAM ACT that specifically impact Latinas:

  • Young Latinas must be presented with both the military and school options equally weighted.  Additionally, they must be made aware that the minimum years of duty required upon enlisting exceeds two years. 
  • Adequate protection must be included in the DREAM Act so that enlisted Latina immigrants will not jeopardize their legal status if they bring a claim of sexual assault or rape against their perpetrators.  

 This bill provides a much-needed route to lawful citizenship to the country many immigrant youth call home.  We will continue to work with the Administration and lawmakers to recognize the historical impact of the military on communities of color, and to think of new solutions to address this issue.