Posted by Laura Kellams on June 28th 2013
The bipartisan immigration legislation now headed to the U.S. House of Representatives contains significant gains for children and families, including family reunification measures and opportunities for "DREAMers" to obtain higher education and earn citizenship.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families applauds the U.S. Senate for passage of this historic legislation. AACF has long worked to improve opportunities for children of immigrants, whose success is key to the economic future of our state. This legislation, while not perfect, is a major step forward in providing critical opportunities for all children in Arkansas to live up to their full potential.
One of our partners on national children's issues, First Focus, released an analysis of the legislation yesterday, highlighting key areas in which the bill makes important improvements in children's lives. They include:
- DREAM Act provisions that make a five-year citizenship path available to qualifying immigrants who entered the United States as children.
- Protections for children and families that include an array of common-sense reforms to improve the likelihood that children and parents separated by immigration enforcement activities can reunite. Those range from ensuring that parents detained by authorities can make phone calls to arrange for their children's care to protections against termination of parental rights that were based solely on a parent's detention or deportation.
- Common-sense reforms that give kids equal standing in immigration hearings.
A host of state organizations, including AACF, worked to help get this bill through the Senate. They included Arkansas United Community Coalition, the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Coalition for DREAM, Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center, Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice, Just Communities of Arkansas and Citizens First Congress, among others.
There's a lot more work to do, including a few key child-friendly provisions that were left out of the legislation, but the Senate took an important step forward for the children of Arkansas.