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Commentary By Jack DeGioia: Passing The DREAM Act Is 'Essential'

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With the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act still pending Congressional approval, commentator and Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia voices his support for the legislation and explains why it is significant:

The DREAM Act. It literally has been a dream since first introduced almost a decade ago. Before this session of Congress ends, basic fairness says it is time for this dream to become reality.

As a university in the heart of the nation's capital, working to understand the impacts of globalization and the responsibilities we have in a new global context, it is our job, as educators, to support all of our students, including those who were born abroad, and to encourage passage of this legislation.

It is estimated that there are more than 2 million young people in the United States who were brought here without legal status before age 16. These young people did not make independent decisions to enter the U.S. without documentation.

In most cases, they came here with well-intentioned parents seeking to provide them a better future for their family. Since then, they have lived their lives as Americans, working hard to become educated and striving towards better lives.

The DREAM Act will allow these young leaders to continue contributing to a brighter future for our country. The legislation will make young people born abroad, who fulfill specific, high standards of excellence, eligible for conditional permanent residency. After six years in that status, they can apply for legal permanent residency, provided they have completed two years of college or university, or have performed military service.

At Georgetown, students who meet the DREAM Act criteria are campus leaders and role models for their generation. They are pursuing challenging majors, are actively engaged in campus organization, and regularly participate in community service.

As these students work toward completing their degrees, their drive to give back to this country -- using the knowledge gained through an American education -- is unparalleled. They have done their part to make America, and our increasingly interconnected world, a better place. We must do ours to support a future for them that is free of fear, constraints and limitations on their success.

Passing the DREAM Act is an essential step toward that end. It will not only help these future leaders, it will enrich our campuses and make our country stronger.

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