Earlier today, CAUSA's Eugene staff member, Ranfis Villatoro received a response from Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-D) regarding questions he had about the Congressman's position on the DREAM Act, Immigration Reform, and Tuition Equity. Here is a copy of that response letter from Representative DeFazio:
Dear Mr. Villatoro:
Thank you for contacting me in favor of the DREAM Act. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, the Senate recently failed to find the votes to even take up the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which some Senators had hoped to attach the DREAM act to. Given that the Senate has been a perennial grave yard for legislation, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has stated unequivocally that the House of Representatives will not act on immigration reform until the Senate is able to pass their version. With that in mind, it is highly unlikely that the House of Representatives will be voting on immigration issues in the near future. If we are going to make any sort of legislative progress the Senate is going to have to quit its bloviating and dithering, and instead actually pass more than a handful of bills every year.
Currently 12 states are exercising their existing right to offer undocumented immigrants in-state tuition. These states are making it easier for all residents of their states to obtain a higher education. California and Texas, two of the states with the largest immigrant populations, are among these 12 states. I support these states' right to determine their own guidelines for in-state tuition requirements, and would not want the federal government to get in the way of that right. The DREAM Act would simplify the process for other states to follow suit.
The DREAM Act would also give undocumented immigrants access to financial aid and create a path to citizenship for these students. I am very sympathetic to reducing the cost of college for any student struggling to stay in school and better themselves with education; but I do not believe that Congress will be able to find consensus on this issue until many other shortcomings of our current immigration system are also addressed and we take up comprehensive reform.
It is easy to talk about the undocumented immigrant issue, but much harder to make policies that are fair and equitable for Americans, legal immigrants, and the undocumented immigrants, who have lived in the U.S. for years, paid their taxes, enhanced their communities, and stayed out of trouble. I honestly don't know what the ultimate solution will be. In the mean time, I believe that the DREAM Act should be debated by Congress as part of a broader immigration bill. Clearly our immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of American citizens or those who are seeking citizenship. I look forward to carefully reviewing any immigration reform legislation that is passed by the Senate and comes before the House of Representatives.
Thanks again for writing. Please continue to keep in touch.
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON