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DREAM Act Introduction Imminent – Organizations Garner Support Nationwide

By March 30, 2006No Comments

Downloadable:  English and Korean press statements

April 14, 2005                Contacts:  EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703
                                      Yu Soung Mun, YKASEC, 718-460-5600
                                      Kent Chaegu Lee, KRCC, 773-506-9158
                                        Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323-937-3718

DREAM Act Introduction Imminent – Organizations Garner Support Nationwide

[Los Angeles]  The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community (New York), Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC-Chicago), and the Korean Resource Center (KRC-Los Angeles) garnered strong momentum from Korean American organizations, churches, and small businesses to support the pending introduction of the DREAM Act.  The effort came in the form of the national DREAM Act Statement of Support, spearheaded by the United We DREAM Campaign and coordinated by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).  

Community advocates are amazed at the breadth and depth of support they have founded for the DREAM Act, legislation to help immigrant students who have grown up in the United States to obtain legal status and complete their education.  Over the last several weeks, more than 800 organizations have endorsed the DREAM Act, which will be re-introduced in the Senate shortly by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).  It is extremely unusual for legislation that has received relatively little publicity to have accumulated so much recognition and support at the grassroots level, and this bodes well for the proposal as it works its way through Congress.

NAKASEC and affiliates mobilized 263 groups from Korean American and Asian American communities in California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington DC.  In general, the DREAM Act Statement of Support outlines the core principles of the founding of student legalization legislation.  The DREAM Act if passed would grant undocumented immigrant students to pursue higher education and open up a path to legal permanent residency.

Linton Joaquin, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center said, “Support in the Asian Pacific American Community is particularly strong.  Literally hundreds of organizations, large and small, responded to KRC’s and NAKASEC’s call for endorsements.  The staff of our organizations was overwhelmed by the response.  It is likely that there are more than 100,000 undocumented Asian minors.”

“It is important at this point in time to show a strong nationwide support for the DREAM Act.  It is expected that the DREAM Act will be re-introduced in the Senate sometime in the coming weeks. Our expectation is that this year’s bill will likely be substantially identical to the one that emerged from the Judiciary Committee last session by a 16-3 vote,” stated EunSook Lee, executive director of NAKASEC.

“Starting out big and strong will carry us forth throughout the rest of the year to push for the DREAM Act.  Many of our staff and volunteers contacted organizations and churches to get their support.  The response has been outstanding and we feel confident about our efforts this congressional session,” Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of KRC said.  

“Despite the fact that we are facing hard times with legislations being considered in Congress such as the REAL ID Act, it is amazing to see that students, their allies, and the community are continuing to pull together and make progress.  It reminds us why we are in this struggle together – giving immigrant students a chance to contribute to their community by being able to pursue higher education and obtain legal status,” stated Kent Chaegu Lee, executive director of KRCC.

Yu Soung Mun, executive director of YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community further stated, “The DREAM Act is a legislation we need to towards pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.  There are also family reunification, workers rights, civil liberties, and broader legalization that need to be addressed.  DREAM Act is a step towards fixing our immigration system.”

The DREAM Act, if passed, would help individuals who were brought to the United States years ago as undocumented immigrant children and who have gone to school here and can show that they have good moral character.  It provides that upon high school graduation, these young people may apply for temporary “conditional” legal residence that is good for 6 years.  At the end of the 6 year period, they become eligible for permanent legal resident status if they have attended at least two years of college or served in the military.  It is estimated that about 65,000 such individuals graduate from high school each year.