This is a guest post by Kami Hall, Jewish Community Action’s new Communications and Development Associate. Kami brings passion for social justice issues and embraces the concept of lifelong learning. She is currently pursuing a master of gender & women’s studies degree at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Education has always been very important to the Jewish community. It allowed us to develop ourselves, helped us shape our community, and rise above fear and hate. Many immigrant students face similar barriers when they receive an education, including legal status. With continual worries about potential deportation, what student can properly focus on their education?
As Jews, we support policies that fulfill the Torah’s mandate to “welcome the stranger”, as we know that effective immigration policies have often made the difference for members of our community coming from all over the world. For several years, Jewish Community Action has worked with allies such as the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (ICOM) and United to Dream, to pass the “Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act.
The DREAM Act is a carefully drafted bill that offers students who meet eligibility requirements, access to legal status. The DREAM Act was introduced to Congress in May, 2011 by Senator Dick Durbin. Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken co-sponsored the bills. The DREAM Act was introduced in the House by Howard Berman. Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison co-sponsored the bill. Legislation is pending.
Students qualify for the DREAM Act if they meet these criteria:
- They have arrived in the U.S. under the age of 16 and are a long-term resident
- Have a sound moral makeup
- Have no criminal record
- Have successfully completed a minimum of two years of either college or military training
- Are under 34 years old
In order for the DREAM Act to pass, we need support from the public. This is why Jewish Community Action and allies are promoting the DREAM Act Sabbath, which enlists Minnesota’s churches, synagogues, and mosques to host conversations, prayers, presentation and reflections on DREAM students from September 16 through October 9, 2011. Even though we have requested congregations to hold at least one Sabbath service, events and dates will vary depending on each participating faith community.
The timing of the Sabbath is especially important now, given that this June the Obama Administration made an announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin reviewing deportation cases depending on new guidelines that determine priority of cases. With record numbers of individuals being deported each year, including DREAM Act-eligible students, this is the time to show your support for these students.
Jewish Community Action will be working to promote the DREAM Act in congregations, especially with their students and families. For more information, contact Vic Rosenthal at (651) 632-2184 or [email protected]. To learn more about Jewish Community Action’s work on immigrant rights, visit our website at www.jewishcommunityaction.org.
What else can I do?
- Thank President Obama for moving forward with this new policy and ask him to defer deportation of eligible DREAM Act students. Call the White House Comments Line: (202) 456-1111; Fax (202) 456-2461; Via the web at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
- Thank Senator Franken for co-sponsoring the DREAM Act and for his written support to defer deportation of DREAM Act-eligible students. Call Senator Franken’s Washington D.C. office: (202) 224-5641; Saint Paul office: (651) 221-1016; Via the web: http://franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al
- Thank Senator Klobuchar for co-sponsoring the DREAM Act and ask her to urge President Obama to defer deportation of DREAM-Act eligible students. Call Senator Klobuchar’s Washington D.C. office: (202) 224-3244; Twin Cities office: (612) 727-5220;
Via the web: http://klobuchar.senate.gov/emailamy.cfm?contactForm=emailamy&submit=Go
To learn more about the DREAM Act Sabbath, follow this link: http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/index.php/2011/07/01/dream-sabbath-launch/