The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act ("DREAM Act") is a proposed piece of federal legislation that would grant conditional permanent resident status for a six year period to undocumented students nationwide upon completion of high school or the equivalent. To be eligible, students must demonstrate good moral character, have arrived in the U.S. as children, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment.
As members of one of the leading institutions of higher learning, we must come together to support the DREAM Act. Every year, 65,000 students graduate from high school with little means of attending college. If passed, the DREAM Act could enable these 65,000 of our extremely talented friends, classmates, and family members to strive for the education they worked so hard for. This petition is therefore a call to President Levin to publicly recognize the dream of students both in and outside of Yale's campus by signing on in support of the DREAM Act. Let's act on this dream!
- President, Yale University
Richard C. Levin
- Executive Assistant to the President, Yale University
Regina L Starolis
We write to you, once again, as concerned Yale students and members of the faculty and administration in support of immigrant rights at Yale University. Prior to this letter, we contacted you with this petition at the end of the fall 2009 semester, after a meeting you attended with other Ivy League Presidents during which Harvard University President Catherine Faust introduced you to this cause. Our standing demand is your public endorsement of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). Introduced in several forms since 2001, the DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that would grant conditional permanent resident status to undocumented students nationwide upon completion of several requirements: arrival in the United States before the age of sixteen, residence in the country for at least five consecutive years, graduation from a U.S. American high school or acquirement of a GED or a military service equivalent, and demonstrating “good moral character.” Students who, within a six-year timeframe, graduate from a two-year community college, complete at least two years towards a four-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military, will be eligible to apply for legal permanent residency.
The DREAM Act was reintroduced to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate on March 26, 2009. This coming June, as in years past, approximately 65,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school, all of who, have no path to citizenship and, by extension, no access to federal financial aid under current immigration policy. Despite their achievements and dreams for a better future after high school, the life plans of these graduating seniors are many times completely paralyzed. Only 5% are able to attend college at all.*
Nevertheless, there are a number of undocumented students who have persevered and currently attend our own Yale University. The immigration status of these students and others like them limits their financial situation, impedes their full academic potential, and prevents them from wholly experiencing the vast range of opportunities Yale offers its students. Fortunate though they may be to be here, undocumented Yalies continue to live in fear of the total uprooting caused by deportation. With the passage of the DREAM Act, these students could finally emerge from the shadows to build a stable ground for their futures.
At Yale, we are in a place of profound influence, but with great power and influence comes great responsibility. It is for this reason that we ask you, as the President of Yale University, to sympathize with undocumented students at Yale by signing on in support of the DREAM Act and imploring the need for the immediate passage of the DREAM Act. Through efforts like the Elm City Resident ID Card, New Haven has implemented many progressive changes toward its immigrant residents, and we ask only that Yale do the same for its students and potential applicants. As an enlightened and global institution of learning, Yale must support the education and future of all of its students, regardless of immigration status. Yale can no longer stand idly by while its undocumented students graduate to an uncertain future. There is no better time than now for Yale to take a leading role in this issue. As the leader of this Ivy League institution, we believe you occupy a privileged and respected position in academia, and we urge you to take advantage of your position to help pass this piece of legislation. Furthermore, we call on you to encourage universities across the country to embrace this cause and declare their support for undocumented students. Your public support of the DREAM Act would reverberate around the nation, sending an important message to leaders of other institutions of higher education and, more importantly, calling the attention of policymakers to the importance and urgency of this issue. By joining the group of Ivy League Presidents who support this cause, you also agree to advocate the following individual actions at Yale to build critical support to pass the DREAM Act and make higher education more attainable for undocumented students:
* Release an individual public statement of your support for the DREAM Act;
* Contact representatives and senators in the State of Connecticut to express your support for the DREAM Act;
* Contact the Presidents of peer and neighboring institutions to urge them to publicly support this bill;
* Contact local organizations to build solidarity with their fight for immigrant rights;
* Implement policies that provide undocumented Yale students with the financial resources every other student has available to them, including student jobs, fellowships and internships.
Finally, we would like to propose the formation of a pan-Ivy League committee made up of faculty, students, and administrators from across the universities that dedicated to working toward the passage of the DREAM Act.
We would like to conclude this letter by sharing the perspective of an undocumented student attending Yale College:
“Although I know no other home outside the United States and have never left the U.S. since my arrival twenty years ago, I can be deported from my family and my home at Yale at any given moment. Needless to say, my entire life experience is grounded in the U.S. Because of my status, I have faced numerous obstacles, including my inability to drive, travel, work, study abroad, obtain any state or federal identification, and essentially to take legitimate part in American society. Through no fault of my own, I have been denied many basic human rights that are essential to our understanding of the United States as a liberated nation based on progressive principles. Yale strives to develop in its students the abilities they need to successfully contribute to society, and yet upon my graduation, I will be fully barred both from fulfilling this goal and pursuing my own. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities Yale has given me, and I fully recognize the barriers I have overcome in order to obtain such an astounding education. Nevertheless, it would make me immensely proud of my university if it were to acknowledge and support students like me in this way. My life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of other students are at stake, and I can only imagine the infinite good that can come from your public support.”
We thank you for your time and consideration.
Concerned Yale Students, Faculty and Affiliates
* Statistic from US News Report [http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2009/04/22/college-board-backs-bill-to-legalize-undocumented-students.html]
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