NEA and United We Dream partner to host DREAMer student clinic


by Félix Pérez

When President Barack Obama announced in June that eligible DREAMer students would be able to register to live and work legally in the United States for two years, there was concern among the aspiring citizen students and their advocates that there wasn’t sufficient time to help the students collect the necessary documentation and navigate the process.

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To help meet the glaring national need for accurate information, groups such as United We Dream and America’s largest and oldest educator union, the National Education Association, have tapped into their vast online networks and community connections.

The most recent example of that partnership took place this past Saturday on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College. There, a group of volunteer attorneys, and trained NEA and United We Dream volunteers held a four-hour application clinic for DREAMers.

Among the applicants was a female high school student who expressed her appreciation to the teachers who have helped her along her journey. “To my teachers, I want to say thank you, because they have always helped me, have always been there and have been patient.”

The teen-ager, joined by her two sisters (see photo above), added, “I don’t know what career I’ll get, but I know I want to do something that helps other people.”

Utah elementary school teacher and NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen is an outspoken advocate of DREAMer students. On August 15 — the first day eligible students were able to register for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — she wrote:

Today, the DHS will begin accepting applications from young people who were brought here as children and wish to remain. It is not a full-fix for the immigration issues with which our country still struggles. But it is a safe-harbor for children; for students; for young adults who want to come in from the shadows.

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