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The DREAM Act: A watershed vote Latinos will not forget

A recent study showed that students covered under the DREAM Act will
contribute at least one trillion dollars to the American economy over the
course of their lifetimes. 
Moreover, according to the Congressional Budget Office, enacting the DREAM Act would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion dollars over ten
years.  Our military supports the DREAM Act and it is part of the
Department of Defense’s 2010–2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its
recruiting efforts.  From an
educational, economic competitiveness, and troop readiness perspective, support
for the DREAM Act is a no-brainer. 
The intangible benefits of investing in these students’ futures,
however, are immeasurable.  These
students want, and will have, the chance to go on to college or serve in the
military to continue giving back to the only country they have ever called
home.

For Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s
electorate, the DREAM Act vote is a defining one.  For one, a significant number of these children are
Latino.  But more importantly, with
this vote Congress can reaffirm the fundamental principle that in America we do
not punish innocent children.  This
issue is near and dear to Latinos because, though the majority of Hispanics are
U.S. citizens, we are keenly aware of the devastating effects of congressional
inaction on immigration reform and believe America cannot afford to lose
another generation of young people who stand to contribute to its economic and
social prosperity.

The time for excuses is over.  The DREAM Act has been around for over a decade, and has
been debated and supported by members of both parties.  It is time for a vote, and no amount of
excuses will hide which members chose to stand for innocent children, and which
did not.  And Latinos will remember
exactly which side those members chose.

Janet Murguía is president and CEO of the NCLR
(National Council of La Raza).

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