Durbin Talks DREAM Act with Harvard University President Drew Faust and DREAM Act Student Eric Balderas

Bill to Help Immigrant Students Achieve Legal Status Could Reach Senate Floor Next Week

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Harvard University President Drew Faust and Eric Balderas, a Harvard University student, about the DREAM Act - a narrowly tailored, bipartisan bill which will give a select group of undocumented students a chance to earn legal status provided they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing. The bill could be brought to the floor as early as next week.


Mr. Balderas, whose parents brought him to the United States when he was four years old, was arrested in June while traveling back to Boston after visiting family in Texas. Facing deportation, Harvard students and President Faust lobbied on Balderas’ behalf and his deportation was stayed after Durbin contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement about his case.


“Eric’s goal in life is to become a cancer researcher, but he can't reach that goal because he does not have legal status,” Durbin said. “America would be better off if we give talented young immigrants, like Eric, a chance to contribute more fully to the only homeland they’ve ever known. The DREAM Act would give students like Eric that opportunity. This is the choice the DREAM Act presents to us. We can allow a generation of immigrant students with great potential and ambitions to contribute more fully to our society and our national security or we can relegate them to a future in the shadows, which would be a loss for us all.”


Harvard University President Drew Faust said: “Eric and I want to thank Senator Durbin for his sponsorship of the DREAM Act, which would throw a lifeline to thousands of students across the country like Eric who, through no fault of their own, face uncertain futures due to their immigration status. These young men and women are working hard in school and are dedicated to a future living in and contributing to our communities or serving in the military. I believe it is in our best interest to educate all students to their full potential."


Our current immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from pursuing their dreams and fully contributing to our nation’s future. Many of these students have no choice in the matter because they were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age and have spent most of their lives in America. This is the only home they know. They are fully assimilated into American society and they want nothing more than to be Americans.


“We should not punish children for their parents’ mistakes. That is not the American way. The DREAM Act says to these kids: America will give you a chance. We will give you the opportunity to earn your way to legal status if you work hard and play by the rules,” Durbin said.


The DREAM Act includes important restrictions to prevent abuse. DREAM Act students would not be eligible for Pell grants, would be subject to tough criminal penalties for fraud, and would have limited ability to sponsor their family members for legal status.


The DREAM Act has broad bipartisan support. The DREAM Act has 40 cosponsors, including lead Republican cosponsor Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and is the only immigration reform legislation the Obama Administration has endorsed. In the 110th Congress, the DREAM Act received 52 votes, including 11 Republicans. According to a recent poll by Opinion Research Corporation, 70% of likely voters favor the DREAM Act, including 60% of Republicans.


The DREAM Act is supported by a broad coalition of education, business, labor, civil rights and religious leaders from across the political spectrum and around the country, including the AFL-CIO, the Anti-Defamation League, the National PTA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft and Pfizer, and dozens of colleges and universities.


For more information about the DREAM Act and other students like Eric Balderas, visit: http://www.durbin.senate.gov/issues/leg_dreamAct.cfm. Photos from today’s meeting are attached.