This Tuesday Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would include the DREAM Act in a defense authorization bill. The DREAM Act will help thousands of committed students and military officers to legalize their status in the United States. Currently, they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and often live in constant fear of exposure to immigration authorities.
The DREAM Act would provide certain conditional legal status, if students attend college or join the military. It would also allow immigrant students access to higher education by returning to states the authority to determine who qualifies for in-state tuition. Amnesty International supports the DREAM Act because it upholds significant human rights goals including the right to education and the right to family life and unity.
This is an incredible opportunity to fulfill the human rights of young immigrants in the United States. Urge your Senator to support passage of the Dream Act now!
Call the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121
Passage of the Dream Act will support a variety of human rights obligations including:
1. Right to Education:
Currently, undocumented children in the US are constitutionally guaranteed the right to access public education. However, their ability to complete high school, as well as the opportunity to pursue university studies, is undermined by their lack of legal status. Undocumented children are ineligible for federal financial aid for higher education and, in most states, for in-state tuition at public universities.
Education is a right worthy of protection itself. It is also an indispensable means of realizing other human rights. All children, without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of their status or the status of their parents, have a right to education. General Comment No. 13 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights establishes that states are obliged to ensure that education is accessible to everyone, without discrimination, within the jurisdiction of the state. Accessibility includes non-discrimination, physical accessibility, and economic accessibility.
2. Right to Family Life and Unity:
The threat of deportation hangs heavily over every undocumented person in the U.S. This weight may be felt most profoundly by children who consider the U.S. their home but can make no legal claim to it. Actual deportation is devastating to families. Parents are sometimes forced to leave their U.S. born children in the hands of others while the rest of the children return to a foreign land with their parents.
The right to family life and unity is protected under Article 23 of the ICCPR, as well as Article 10 of the ICESCR. Article 44 of the Migrant Workers’ Convention provides for the protection of the unity of the families of migrant workers who are documented or in a regular situation. The right to family life is also recognized in all key regional human rights instruments. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that deportation may be a circumstance that results in family separation. At a minimum, the right protects individuals against the arbitrary separation of their families. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has noted that states should “avoid expulsions of non-citizens, especially of long-term residents, that would result in disproportionate interference with the right to family life.”
The Dream Act is narrowly tailored to a population of student immigrants in the United States. Amnesty International supports the legislation because the intent is to provide an avenue to legalization and in effect the legislation will ensure that a variety of human rights, including those discussed above as well as others, will be respected and protected.