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Progressive States Network Applauds New Administration Policy Protecting DREAMers from Deportation, Points to Continuing Importance of State Tuition Equity Efforts

06/15/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 15, 2012
CONTACT: Charles Monaco, Director of Communications and New Media, Progressive States Network, cmonaco@progressivestates.org


Progressive States Network Applauds New Administration Policy Protecting DREAMers from Deportation, Points to Continuing Importance of State Tuition Equity Efforts

 

New York, NY – Today, the Obama Administration announced a new policy that will allow hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who have lived here since they were children to avoid deportation and obtain work authorization. Progressive States Network’s Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Suman Raghunathan, issued the following statement in response:

This morning’s announcement by the Obama administration that DREAM Act eligible students and others will be allowed to apply for deferred action and work authorization is a common-sense, humane, and responsible action that will immediately bring hope to hundreds of thousands young undocumented Americans seeking nothing more than to continue to live in their country and contribute to our economy.  We applaud the administration for taking decisive, practical action today that immediately allows so many talented young people already living here to, for the first time, see a real future for themselves in their nation.

This trailblazing policy shift also creates an even clearer path for state-level tuition equity laws – which have already been enacted by fourteen states – by expanding opportunities for undocumented college students seeking to study here and stay here to contribute to their state economies. Allowing these students to apply for work authorization will let them put their hard earned college degrees to use and allow the nation to benefit from their energy and economic contributions. This type of common-sense approach to immigration creates jobs and the educated workforce states need to compete in a 21st century economy. That’s why businesses continue to voice their strong support for tuition equity in the states, and why bipartisan majorities have supported similar policies for a decade.

In the absence of Congressional action over the past decade, the momentum for positive immigration reform has come not only from courageous DREAM activists, but also from continued action by advocates and lawmakers at the state level. Since the last time Congress took up the DREAM Act in 2010, state legislatures across the nation have seen tuition equity proposals introduced and passed, continuing to push the issue forward.

Critically, today’s announcement should assuage one of the objections most commonly raised by opponents to state tuition equity proposals – that increasing the number of college graduates who are undocumented will mean little if they are unable to work legally after graduating. The work authorization process announced today, coupled with the structure of most state tuition equity laws, means that states will be able to more fully address the needs of many sectors of their own economies through an approach that includes tuition equity for DREAM eligible students – and is sure to provide even more momentum for the policy in states still considering tuition equity proposals of their own.

Today’s announcement is welcome news and a ray of hope for many. But it also reminds us of the need for broad federal reform that will not only enshrine this administrative change into law, but also extend a common sense approach to immigration to reach the many other undocumented Americans who are raising U.S. citizen children, paying state and federal taxes, and contributing in so many ways to our states and our nation. The members of State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy – a growing national group of 96 state legislators representing 38 states – will continue to lead in the states by advancing approaches to immigration that reflect our core values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. We hope that today’s announcement will serve to spur more action on common-sense immigration policies both in state legislatures and in Congress – including the DREAM Act and comprehensive reform at the federal level – in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

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(Note: Progressive States Network’s Suman Raghunathan and leading state legislators from across the nation are available for comment on this story: Contact Charles Monaco at cmonaco@progressivestates.org)

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State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy is a diverse group of state legislators, affiliated with Progressive States Network, who are advancing sensible and progressive approaches to immigration at the state level. These leaders, currently representing 38 states, are rejecting alarmist approaches to immigration in favor of one that reflects our core values as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants.

Progressive States Network (http://www.progressivestates.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the advancement of state policies that deliver on the issues that matter to working families: integrating immigrants into our communities, strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.

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