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Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants is Back in the Legislative Sphere

Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants is Back in the Legislative Sphere

On July 20, 2017, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the DREAM Act of 2017, a bill that would provide certain immigrants who were brought to the United States as children with a pathway to legalized status and eventual citizenship.

The bill, S. 1615, comes after ten state attorneys general threatened to sue the Trump Administration over the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, an Executive Order under the Obama administration which grants deportation relief and access to work permits and drivers licenses to over 800,000 “DREAMers.” On June 16, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in a statement that the DACA program would remain in effect.

The DREAM Act would apply to DREAMers only if they graduate from high school or earn a GED, pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years or serve in the military, pass background checks and demonstrate proficiency in English and a knowledge of U.S. history. The DREAM Act would build upon the protections that DACA already provides for certain undocumented immigrants, allowing them to not only participate in American society but also work towards eventual citizenship.

Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of undocumented immigrants. Leviticus commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (19:33-34). This teaching permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment.

Undocumented Immigrants and their families are woven into the fabric of our society and play a valuable role in our communities and nation at large. The DREAM Act would allow these valuable community members the chance to reside permanently and legally in the country they view as home, and that is a very exciting prospect.  

Max Antman is 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Max is originally from Evanston, IL., where he is a member of Beth Emet the Free Synagogue. Max attended the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Max Antman

Published: 7/25/2017