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NEA: Congress moves closer to providing certainty and protection to Dreamers

U.S. House passes American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

WASHINGTON - June 04, 2019 -

By a vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, a bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2.7 million Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders, including an estimated 37,000 educators in our nation’s public schools, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute. Nine years have passed since the Dream Act last received a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“After years of living in jeopardy, hundreds of thousands of eligible Dreamers and TPS holders—including an estimated 37,000 educators currently working in our nation’s public schools—are a step closer to fulfilling their aspirations and reaching their dreams,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The American Dream and Promise Act represents the core principle of welcoming immigrants and their many talents and contributions to our country. They are our neighbors, our friends, our students, and, yes, our peers. They are integral parts of our communities. They are Americans in every way except on paper.”

NEA members have long advocated for a permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and DACA recipients brought to the U.S. as minors. In classrooms across the nation, educators have seen firsthand the anxiety and stress in students who fear for themselves, their families and communities.

“For me, the American Dream and Promise Act would provide relief and happiness,” said Karen Reyes, who came to the U.S. at age 2 and today teaches deaf preschoolers in Austin, Texas. “I could continue to teach without fear that this will be my last year doing something that I love. Right now many young undocumented folks are living in uncertainty because they don’t know what comes next. I know personally what that is like and I would not wish that upon anyone. Today is the first step in ensuring that people are able to live without fear; it is the first step in doing what we know is the right thing to do.”

“As a current DACA holder and rising college senior who has lived in the United States most of my life, the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act would assure that all the hard work and dedication to my education is worth it and gives me hope for a life and career in the country I now call home,” said Axel Herrera Ramos, a rising senior at Duke University and U.S. Capitol intern. “Passing this bill also helps Dreamers like my younger sister. She does not have any DACA protections. She has attended public school all her life and aspires to pursue higher education. This bill would stop families like ours from being separated.”

“Even though this is important, we cannot stop working to ensure the dignity and respect for all immigrants,” continued Reyes. “We can’t let up the pressure—we need to keep talking with our senators because they hold the key to our future. The fight is not over, especially with an administration that continues to demonize and terrorize our communities.”

“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for standing up for educators and students like Karen and Axel and their families,” said Eskelsen García. “We urge the Senate to immediately pass the American Dream and Promise Act because it represents the values that we hold dear as a nation.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez


More Than a DREAM (Act), Less Than a Promise | Immigration Policy Institute, March 2019

Dream and Promise Act will provide much-needed certainty to aspiring Americans | NEA Press Center, May 23, 2019