Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley joined the growing list of university presidents and administrators calling for the passage of the DREAM Act.
In letters to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), President Stanley joins the presidents of the Universities of Buffalo and Rochester; Cornell, Fordham, Syracuse and New York Universities; and the chancellors of both SUNY and CUNY in calling for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We would…like to take this opportunity to affirm our strong support for federal legislation that would provide a pathway to legal residency—and remove barriers to higher education—for thousands of students who are not legal residents of this country, through no fault of their own,” reads the letter.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act enjoys broad support among lawmakers and citizens alike. A poll released earlier this summer suggests that as much as 70 percent of the country favor the provisions included in the DREAM Act.
Those provisions include the creation of a pathway to citizenship for students who were brought to the United States as children and never received proper documentation. In order to obtain legal residency, students would be required to complete some college or enlist in the military, live inside the law, and pay a fine.
Additionally, the act would give states the freedom to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, many of whom have lived in their home states for most of their lives. An ambiguous provision in a 1996 bill sought to outlaw benefits like lower in-state tuitions for undocumented immigrants, but 11 states, including New York, passed their own legislation that offered in-state tuition to immigrants if they met certain requirements.
“We urge you to include the bipartisan 2009 DREAM Act,” says the letter, signed by President Stanley and Chancellor Zimpher. “This legislation will correct an injustice perpetuated upon thousands of American students and ultimately will benefit our country.”
Time is not on the side of supporters of the DREAM Act. The bill is currently part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform bill that is, overall, much more contentious than the DREAM Act. Unless supporters find enough allies to bring DREAM to a vote as a standalone bill, it is unlikely to pass before the November midterm elections. And if the results of those elections go as expected, it’s unlikely there will be enough support in the next Congress to pass it at all.
But pressure to pass the DREAM Act is growing, as more and more outside voices lobby for action.
“It is the right thing to do and should be done now,” reads the letter.