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All Tennesseans Want for Christmas is the DREAM Act

 

Ashley Judd joins students and community leaders in calling for Senators to show courage and do the right thing this holiday weekend

On Thursday evening, December 16th, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set in motion a make-or-break procedural vote on the DREAM Act, now scheduled for this Saturday.  Last week, the bill cleared a huge hurdle in the US House, the first time it has passed either chamber since first introduced in 2001.

The following are statements from actress and advocate Ashley Judd, and Cynthia Ortiz, a student and member of the Tennessee DREAM Act Committee.

Ashley Judd

Actress Ashley Judd

Actress Ashley Judd

The DREAM Act would allow talented young men and women—those brought to this country as children but residing here without immigration documents—to pay their way through college or join the armed forces, and eventually earn their US citizenship. I have met several of these students and listened to their inspiring stories. I’ve found each of them to be as much a Tennessean as you and me, with the loyalties, warmth, accent and manners to prove it. We have already made an investment in them, and now they’re eager to use their talents to give back to the only country they have ever known and the state they love. They are our next generation of teachers, soldiers and scientists.

We must challenge those who spread false information about the DREAM Act or make up excuses for not supporting it. The DREAM Act will in no way increase unauthorized immigration. In fact, this law provides no relief to parents, siblings or any future immigrants. Those able to earn conditional status through the DREAM Act must have already been in the country for at least five years, in addition to fulfilling many strict requirements. Students would not be allowed to sponsor their parents for a green card for at least twenty-five years. Opponents of the bill are right about one thing: Our immigration system is badly broken. The DREAM Act is an important first step towards fixing our outdated laws.

I have had the opportunity to speak with Senator Corker directly about the DREAM Act and believe he understands the urgent need for this legislation. However, I have shared with his staff my concern about recent public comments from both Tennessee Senators indicating they do not intend to support the bill when it comes to a vote. I continue to urge Senators Corker and Alexander to put aside politics and stand up for the lives of Tennessee children and the economic future of our state. I ask that they show the same courage as the eight Republicans who voted for the DREAM last week in the US House, putting partisan politics aside to do what’s right for these children who love America and dream of contributing to the great state of Tennessee.

Cynthia Ortiz

By voting in favor of the DREAM Act last week, Blue Dog representatives from Tennessee recognized our humanity and demonstrated the kind of leadership the country needs from Congress. These legislators understood not only the moral imperative of helping young students escape the limbo of a future without an education, but also the economic advantage that such a law would bring—$2.3 billion in additional revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Now we hope our Senators will also demonstrate the same leadership and vote for a better future for our students and for our economy.

About The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.


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