Wade Henderson and Janet Murguia, presidents of two national organizations present at the White House meeting held this Tuesday to discuss immigration reform, are highlighting the president’s support for the DREAM Act. Just last week, though, a leading advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act received a notice of deportation.
During a phone conference organized by the National Council of La Raza on Wednesday to present a report on the impact of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration-enforcement law, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that the president voiced his support for the DREAM Act Tuesday.
The bill would grant a path to conditional resident status for undocumented immigrant youth who qualify for higher education or military service and came to the U.S before the age of 16.
Henderson said these children grew up believing they are U.S. citizens and have demonstrated through academic achievement and strong moral accomplishment they want to be here. He added that Obama talked about the importance of integrating these students into the American economy and the military.
The DREAM Activist — an undocumented students action and resource network — said in response to this White House meeting:
Since he began his presidency, President Obama has held several discussions on immigration, but what has come out of any of them? Not much (and that is being very generous). What makes us think this will be any different?
DREAM Activist adds:
President Obama has been criticized lately about his lack of support for immigrant youth and his role as “Deporter in Chief.” And elections are coming up. So, calling for an immigration meeting to calm the worries of the Latino and immigrant community during an election season makes sense, right? I mean, it’s obvious the COO of Facebook knows more about the need for reform than the people actually affected by the issue, right? Yes, of course.
DREAM Activist continues: “Over the past year, immigrant youth have been willing to face arrest and risk deportation to countries we no longer remember, but the only risk President Obama is willing to take is to bring some Republicans and Facebook together to chat about immigration.”
Last week, DREAM Activist founder and George Washington University law student Prerna Lal received a notice to appear for removal — i.e. deportation — proceedings.
Henderson added that President Obama framed Tuesday’s meeting on immigration reform as an economic and moral issue.
“I think the president is deeply committed to comprehensive reform,” Henderson said. He said that for the president the future of the U.S. economy lies in harnessing the brainpower of diverse communities.
According to Henderson the president also called immigration reform a “moral responsibility for providing an opportunity to regularize the status of people who have been in the U.S. for a period of years and have demonstrated a commitment to American values.”
A White House readout of the meeting shows that Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform, border security, and immigration enforcement that more effectively focuses on criminals.
Janet Murguia — president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, who was also at the White House meeting — said it was attended by a diverse group of leaders that included former Bush cabinet members, former state elected officials from both parties, law enforcement, business leaders and faith-based groups.
Murguia said the meeting “reflects part of what we have seen to be effective at the state level in bringing together broader-based coalitions to help generate the support for broader comprehensive immigration reform and a real solution for this problem at the federal level.”
According to Henderson, the president ended the meeting with a call for bipartisan leadership, to encourage members of the business community, law enforcement, and others to help take the lead to create the political support to help Congress enact legislation.