UCSC professors urge passage of the DREAM Act

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Shannon Gleeson, assistant professor of Latin American and Latino Studies

Eleven UC Santa Cruz professors and lecturers are among more than 300 university scholars across the nation who have signed an open letter urging passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The DREAM Act is federal legislation that would allow high school graduates who entered the United States illegally 15 years old or younger to gain legal status by serving in the military or completing two years of college. If passed it would grant access to legal residency and some forms of federal financial aid to approximately 2.1 million college-age students.

We … "believe passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do for our nation's immediate interests and for our long term security," states the letter that is also published in the Huffington Post.

"As educators and immigration scholars, we understand that all students possess an enormous amount of potential, while structural barriers abound for many of them," said one of the signers, Shannon Gleeson, assistant professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

"Our undocumented students at the University of California, and across the nation, have defeated the odds and now face a series of particular challenges that prevent their talent and skills from being realized," she said.

The DREAM Act passed the House December 8 by a vote of 216 to 198. Senate Democrats tabled it the next day, fearing a Republican filibuster.  It is not clear if the bill will come up again in the Senate before the end of the lame-duck session.

"This shouldn't be about partisan politics," Gleeson said. "Passage of this legislation is a crucial step that we must take to pave the way for these students to become full, contributing, members of our economy and society.  We owe it to them, and we can't afford not to act now."

The letter urging approval was organized by Roberto G. Gonzales, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, through the Immigration Policy Center, the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council based in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Gleeson, signing from UC Santa Cruz are Gabriela F. Arredondo, Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS), Cindy Cruz, education, Jonathan Fox, (LALS), Margaret A. Gibson, education, Jennifer A. Gonzalez, history of art/visual culture, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, literature, Susanne Jonas,  (LALS), Norma Klahn, literature, Catherine S. Ramírez, American studies, and Pat Zavella, chair of Latin American and Latino Studies.