Senate effort to pass Dreamer fix fizzles
The Senate rejected four different immigration proposals, leaving 800,000 aspiring Americans in limbo less than three weeks before the expiration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). More than 20,000 DACA recipients have already lost their deportation protections and work permits, and some 850 Dreamers join them every week; that number will skyrocket after March 5, President Trump’s self-imposed deadline for ending the program. One-fourth of DACA recipients are parents and more than 9,000 are educators who may be forced to leave their classrooms and the only country they have ever truly known – cruel and immoral treatment that could not be further from the ideals America is supposed to represent.
“The political will and the public support to protect Dreamers are there but Donald Trump and Senate GOP leaders stand in the way every time. We are not going away. We will not quit. We will not back down. We will continue to raise our voices to defend and protect Dreamers,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
NEA supports the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615/H.R. 3440) as well as immediate action to address the current crisis – for example, a Dreamer fix combined with reasonable border security measures. NEA strongly opposes the administration’s four-pillar plan, which got just 39 “yes” votes. It calls for a $25 billion border wall accompanied by severe cuts in legal immigration that would take us back to the 1920s, when the United States explicitly excluded immigrants based on their race, ethnicity, and country of origin. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to pass a Dreamer fix now!
Demand that Congress finally acts to prevent gun violence
Seventeen students and educators were killed and at least 14 injured on Valentine’s Day when a gunman opened fire at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Our hearts are broken yet again by the senseless and tragic shooting in our nation’s public schools, this time in Parkland, Florida,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “We all have a responsibility to create safe schools and communities. As a state and a country, we can and must do more to ensure that everyone who walks through our school doors – educator, student, parent or community member – is safe and free from violence.” Click on the take action button and tell your senators and representative to support common-sense steps to prevent gun violence – now!
Committee approves bill that could help end mass incarceration
The bipartisan NEA-supported Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 1917), passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, would make long-overdue changes in the treatment of youthful offenders and sentencing guidelines that disproportionately impact communities of color. In effect, the bill bans solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons, a harsh practice that undermines the ultimate goal of rehabilitation. It also takes steps to ensure that mandatory minimum sentences – a major factor in the nearly 800 percent increase in the federal prison population over the last two decades – are not imposed on people with little or no criminal history. Click on the take action button and tell your senator to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.
Cheers and Jeers
Republican Senators Jeff Flake (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and 48 Democrats for voting “yes” on the bill that would have given Dreamers a path to citizenship without making other major immigration changes
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) for supporting the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act
February 11, 2018
Two-year budget agreement could lead to increases in education funding
You did it! The advocacy of educators and allies was key to this week’s budget agreement – proof that bipartisanship is still possible when Congress wants to do something. While far from perfect, the agreement rolls back the untenable spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and increases funding for domestic programs like education by $131 billion over two years. It also provides $4 billion to help make college more affordable and a full 10-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But we’ve still got work to do. As Congress works to finalize FY2018 funding levels for individual programs, we need to keep advocating for significant increases in Title I, Title II, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and other programs that target the students most in need. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to invest in education.
Tell Congress to pass a Dreamer fix now!
While the budget agreement increased funding for several critical programs, congressional leadership failed to include a Dreamer fix. The Senate will begin debating immigration legislation this week, but the outlook in the House is unclear despite Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s eight-hour speech on immigration reform – the longest continuous speech on the House floor in more than a century. NEA supports the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615/H.R. 3440) as well as immediate action to address the current crisis – for example, a Dreamer fix combined with reasonable border security measures. NEA opposes the administration’s four-pillar plan, which calls for a $25 billion border wall and severe cuts in legal immigration – new immigrants could not sponsor their parents, adult children, or siblings. In addition, the diversity visa program would be curtailed. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that Americans support allowing Dreamers to stay in the United States and become citizens by an almost 8 to 1 margin. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to pass the Dream Act now!
Tell your representative to co-sponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act
Efforts to build support for the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R. 2902) are bearing fruit – nearly 90 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors. This bipartisan bill would increase the federal contribution for the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) gradually over ten years from 15 to 40 percent, the level of support Congress promised when it passed the original IDEA. It would also demonstrate that Congress is serious about meeting its commitment to helping school districts support all students. Click on the take action button and tell your representative to co-sponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act.
Cheers and Jeers
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her marathon speech urging Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) to bring a bipartisan Dreamer fix to the floor
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