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Virginia House Dems Send Letter to Washington Calling for Clean DREAM Act

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From the VA House Democratic Caucus:

House Dems Send Letter to Washington Calling for Clean DREAM Act

RICHMOND, Va. – Led by Delegate Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Alfonso Lopez, every member of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus has signed a letter urging Virginia’s congressional delegation to protect the 12,000 DREAMers who live in Virginia by passing a clean DREAM Act.

This letter sends a powerful message informing members of Congress of the contributions of DREAMers to the Virginia economy and of the human cost of separating families by deporting Virginians who were brought to this country as children.

“We are sending this letter in hopes that our Virginia delegation will take to heart that protecting these young people is a non-partisan issue,” said Delegate Jennifer Boysko. “It’s simply the right thing to do, not only for them and their families, but for Virginia. They help make our communities better. We ask that our representatives in Washington act now.”

“In the House of Delegates, all the Democratic members are committed to protecting the 12,000 DREAMers in Virginia,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez. “This letter sends a message that we in Richmond are extremely concerned about the inaction in Washington. We implore our delegation to put politics aside and pass a clean DREAM Act so that our fellow Virginians can live their lives without the fear of losing the only home that they have ever known.”

“These children were raised in America and know themselves as a Americans; some arrived so young that they recall no homeland but the United States,” the letter read. “DREAMers live as any other Americans do: they pledge allegiance to the American flag, they serve in the Armed Forces of the United States, they work hard and pay taxes, and they are integral members of our communities. Many of the DREAMers now have families of their own and we are running the risk of tearing them apart.”

The letter also points out the measures Democratic lawmakers introduced in the House of Delegates to support DREAMers. Three bills —Delegate Kaye Kory’s  HB11, Delegate Lopez’s HB 19 and Delegate Boysko’s  HB 343 — would have ensured that DREAMers remain eligible for in-state tuition, as they have been since a 2014 legal opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring.

Republican leadership of the House of Delegates refused to hear those bills.

February 16, 2018

Hon. Mark Warner, U.S. Senate
Hon. Tim Kaine, U.S. Senate
Hon. Rob Wittman, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Scott Taylor, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Robert Scott, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Donald McEachin, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Tom Garrett, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Bob Goodlatte, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Dave Brat, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Don Beyer, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Morgan Griffith, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Barbara Comstock, U.S. House of Representatives
Hon. Gerry Connolly, U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation,

We are concerned about the current status of the DREAMers and the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As state legislators, we understand that immigration policy lies in the purview of the federal government. However, we must speak up about the impact that the repeal of DACA and the lack of a DREAM Act will have on our Commonwealth. Virginians who have grown up, studied, and worked their entire lives here deserve better. We urge you to pass a clean DREAM Act before DACA expires.

Nearly 12,000 DREAMers live in Virginia. These young people were brought to the United States as children by their parents, many of whom were fleeing extraordinary violence and economic despair. Motivated by the American Dream, the parents hoped that their children could have the opportunity to build a life better than what was possible in the countries they left behind. These children were raised in America and know themselves as Americans; some arrived so young that they recall no homeland but the United States. DREAMers live as any other Americans do: they pledge allegiance to the American flag, they serve in the Armed Forces of the United States, they work hard and pay taxes, and they are integral members of our communities. DREAMers are American in every way but documentation.

Studying and working under the protection of the DACA program, DREAMers have been able to leave the shadows and make significant contributions to Virginia’s workforce and universities. Since Attorney General Mark Herring announced that DACA recipients qualify for in-state tuition in the Commonwealth of Virginia, over 1,300 DREAMers have attended Virginia colleges and paid the in-state tuition rate. Their access to in-state tuition makes higher education more attainable. Each of these students who graduates with a bachelor’s degree will earn an estimated $1.3 million more over 40 years, greatly benefiting the students, their families, and our Commonwealth. We need educated students to fill the more than 27,000 job vacancies requiring an associate’s degree and the 18,000 job vacancies requiring a bachelor’s degree. Virginia benefits when we provide DREAMers with the opportunity to earn a college education and it would be unwise to exile some of our best and brightest from Virginia’s workforce.

The President has placed the future of the DREAMers in jeopardy. We risk deporting people who have lived and worked among us their entire lives. Many of the DREAMers have families of their own and we risk tearing those families apart. Legislation was introduced this session in the House of Delegates to protect the DREAMers; two bills, HB 19 and HB 343, would have ensured that the DREAMers remain eligible for in-state tuition. The current leadership of the House of Delegates refused to hear those bills, let alone vote on them.

We ask that our federal legislators protect the 12,000 Virginia DREAMers by passing a clean DREAM Act before the DACA program ends. This is not a partisan issue—both of Virginia’s 2017 major party gubernatorial candidates publicly recognized the need to protect these young people from deportation. Brought to the United States as children and raised as Americans, the DREAMers belong here and are vital members of our Commonwealth. Virginians need a clean DREAM Act now.

Kind regards,

Democratic House of Delegates Members