In a surprise mention during the State of the Union Address 2011, President Obama alluded to the DREAM Act and urged Congress to fix our immigration system to stop the deportation of our youth, who, having grown up here their entire lives, by all intents and purposes are as American as the next person minus the document that recognizes them as such. Video clip here and trancript below of what the President said regarding immigration reform:
One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.
Even more interesting, the President used the phrase “Dare to Dream” in the context of restoring the American Dream. For those that followed the DREAM Act during 2010, you might have noticed that that phrase was used in direct connection to the DREAM Act.
Here’s the clip of the President using the “Dare to Dream” phrase and transcript of it below:
From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.
We are a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”
We do big things.
The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.
Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Lastly, in light of how several prominent progressive organizations (like MoveOn.org, for example) ignored the DREAM Act during the lame duck session, it was equally suprising to see MoveOn.org voice support for the DREAM Act as the President delivered his State of the Union Address, even if it was only through twitter:
Is this a sign of more things to come from progressive groups like MoveOn regarding support for a more humane immigration policy or just lip service? I sure hope, as in the case with President Obama, support is real and not just mere lip service. A good starting point would be support for an executive order to put a moratorium on the deportation of the “DREAM’ers”, our undocumented youth that the President made reference to. Now, that would be a real downpayment on the issue of immigration reform.
Update: United We Dream has issued this statement:
President Obama’s State of the Union Speech Alludes to Dreamers
Dreamers will hold our President accountable and work to stop youth deportations.
Undocumented and citizen students across the country tuned in as President Barack Obama, the son of an immigrant student, urged members of Congress to pursue an end to the deportations of undocumented students and workers.
“We thank the President for his words, and we applaud his statements while remaining more active than ever, we are ready to hold him accountable,” said Myrna Orozco, United We Dream Network National Coordinating Committee (NCC) Representative and President of the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance
This year among the top priorities of the United We Dream Network, currently composed of 31 youth organizations across the country, will be to work on reaching out to the 2 million undocumented youth left in the shadows, organize and mobilize their family and friends to be civically engaged, and to fight the deportations of the same people President Obama mentioned in his speech as “talented, responsible young people…who grew up as Americans and pledged allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation”.
“In Arizona we know very well what it means to be a productive member of society, and be condemned to a life of fear. Across the nation, dreamers will continue to organize and urge President Obama to stop the deportation of young undocumented people,” said Erika Andiola, an undocumented leader from the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and representative to the National Coordinating Committee of United We Dream.
We welcome the call to action and unity of the President and we hope that starting tomorrow he puts his own words into action by ending the barriers for young people, who anxiously await the day when they will be given the opportunity to enrich our nation. Furthermore, as soon as next week we will hit the halls of Congress to continue working with both Democratic and Republican leaders to ensure the interests of DREAMers, their families, and the immigrant community, are heard.