TESOL Statement on the Re-introduction of the DREAM Act in the US Congress (May 2011)

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2011

TESOL Contact: John Segota
Tel. 703-518-2513      
E-mail jsegota@tesol.org

TESOL Applauds Re-Introduction of the DREAM Act in the U.S. Congress
Statement from TESOL Executive Director Rosa Aronson, PhD, CAE

Last week (9 May 2011) the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was reintroduced on the floors of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), the global association for English language educators worldwide, commends Senate sponsors Dick Durbin (D-IL), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Robert Menendez (D-J) and House sponsors Howard Berman (D-CA) and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) for their leadership in bringing this important issue forward.

TESOL has long supported passage of the DREAM Act because it will have a direct impact upon the lives of many of the students that TESOL members work with daily, and will enable these students to make significant contributions to the country that they call home. Thousands of undocumented students who have lived in the United States for 5 years or more graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Many of these students started as English language learners and have gone on to excel in school, contribute to their communities, and even become valedictorians. Tragically, many of these students are unable to pursue their dreams of higher education because of the enormous barriers created by their lack of legal status, a situation not of their own choosing.

The DREAM Act will help lower these barriers and provide conditional residency and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth. In addition, the DREAM Act puts access to higher education within reach for many such students who are often not eligible for in-state tuition rates at public universities. By lowering the barriers that prevent access to higher education for these students, the DREAM Act would contribute to a more highly skilled workforce and help these students continue to be productive members of their communities.

In 2010 the DREAM Act came very close to becoming a reality by passing the House, only to be thwarted at the last minute by a Senate filibuster. The DREAM Act is a practical, fair solution that upholds values of access to opportunity and a strong work ethic. TESOL urges Congress to pass this important legislation this year.

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Founded in 1966, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) is a professional community of educators, researchers, administrators and students committed to advancing excellence in English language teaching for speakers of other languages worldwide. With more than 12,000 members representing 156 countries, TESOL fosters the exchange of ideas, research and peer-to-peer knowledge, and provides expertise, resources and a powerful voice on issues affecting the profession. Through professional development programs, its International Conference, special interest groups and publications, TESOL engages tens of thousands of professionals to collaborate globally and create a world of opportunity for millions of people of all ages who want to learn English.