Since we are in Phoenix, Arizona, much of the conversation at House of Bishops meeting has focused on immigration. Yesterday I wrote to the clergy of Minnesota asking them join me in calling on our nation’s Senators to encourage them to support the DREAM Act on immigration.
I now ask you to join us in this important effort.
DREAM is an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.” Under the act, eligible students can apply for “conditional lawful permanent residency” for a six-year period during which they must graduate from a two-year college, complete two years of a four-year degree, or serve in the military for two years with honorable discharge (if they choose to leave service). At the end of the six-year period, if they have met the criteria, they can become lawful permanent residents.
Why is the DREAM act important? Each year 65,000 US raised students are denied access to higher education and legal employment due to the fact that they were brought to this country at a young age by their parents. Instead of punishing these students for actions taken on their behalf and beyond their control, the DREAM Act would provide a fair process by which these young people could gain legal status in virtually the only country they have ever known.
The DREAM Act was originally introduced in 2001 and has come up in Senate a few times since then, but only went to a vote as a standalone bill once in 2007. This year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will attach it to the defense authorization bill. Regardless of the politics of the past, however, the time is now to pass this important legislation.
As suggested by the Minnesota Council of Churches, your call to the Senators may go something like this:
Hello, my name is [name here] and I am [title of community or faith group or other organization]. I am asking the Senator to help pass the DREAM Act, Senate Bill S 729 now.
All calls to Senate offices are logged – and it is the sheer volume of calls that will get their attention. Here are our Senator’s phone numbers:
- Senator Amy Klobuchar: DC office, 202- 224-3244; Metro office, 612-727-5220; Rochester office, 507-288-5321; Moorhead office, 218-287-2219; Northeast MN office, 218-741-9690;
- Senator Al Franken: DC office, 202-224-5641; St. Paul office, (651) 221-1016; St. Cloud office, (320) 251-2721; NW Mobile Office, (218) 230-9487; Duluth office, (218) 722-2390; St. Peter office, (507) 931-5813.
Visit http://washingtonindependent.com/97658/dream-act-refresher for a quick primer on the DREAM Act.