Virginia bishop, ecumenical leaders join senator on Capitol Hill to launch 'Dream Sabbath' campaign
"The DREAM Act points to a moral good -- access to education. Young people, having graduated from high school and having done no wrong, should not be barred from access to college loans, grants and scholarships simply because of the actions of their parents," said Jones in an e-mail sent to Episcopal News Service following the press conference. They are, like their classmates, inheritors of the American Dream. They should not be denied opportunity. The DREAM Act opens the door to that opportunity."
The DREAM Act 2011 -- Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors -- is bipartisan legislation that would grant "conditional permanent resident" status to students who entered the United States at age 15 or younger and who have maintained "good moral character" upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school, or being awarded a GED in the United States.
The Dream Sabbath, Sept. 16- Oct. 9, is an interreligious effort coordinated by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to enlist churches to dedicate a Sabbath for dialogue on the Dream Act. Other religious leaders scheduled to attended the July 12 event included Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America; Bishop Richard Graham of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod; and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
On July 7, the Episcopal Church announced that it would join the Sabbath, according to a press release.
“The Episcopal Church supports the DREAM Act through the approval of General Convention 2009 Resolution B006,” said Alex Baumgarten, Episcopal Church director of the Office of Government Relations and international policy analyst, in the release. “The DREAM Act would help thousands of youth who came to our country as undocumented to receive legal status, thereby granting untold opportunities on their way to becoming United States citizens.”
Each year approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
“Every child growing up in America deserves the opportunity to become a productive member of society and to achieve their dreams,” said Ana White, the Episcopal Church's immigration and refugee policy analyst, in the release. “Withholding legal status from these children not only hurts them, but it deprives America of future generations of dedicated citizens, innovators, entrepreneurs and public servants. The DREAM Act will help them.”
In December 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the DREAM Act, but it died before it reached the U.S. Senate floor. The current bill was introduced in the Senate on May 11 by Durbin and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), and in the House by Representatives Howard Berman (D-California), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California).
The earliest version of the DREAM Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2001.