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Leticia M. Diaz: Strengthening America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. GRAYSON. Madam Speaker, I would like to bring attention to an article written by Leticia M. Diaz at Barry University entitled ``Strengthening America.'' Dr. Diaz, who holds a PhD and a JD from Rutgers University, is the Dean of the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando and a member of the advisory committee for the newly formed American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities.

(By Leticia M. Diaz)

Like millions of others, I came to America with my immigrant parents. Seizing on the opportunities and access to superior education offered by this country allowed me to not only achieve the American dream, but to give back to this nation.

My story is far from unique. Like the immigrants before me, I came to the United States to seek the freedom and the opportunities unavailable in the country of my birth. Comprised of a vast immigrant population, the United States matured and expanded as a result of the great Irish and Chinese immigrations of the 1800s along with many newcomers from Europe over the years. These immigrants provided much of the labor force that built the infrastructure as our country grew into a world power. Over the years, my family and millions of other immigrants worked hard to make America into a strong, productive, and dynamic nation.

Today, tens of thousands of young adults stand ready to give back to the country they call home. By opening the door to educational advancement or military service, the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act before Congress benefits those youngsters who, as children, accompanied their parents to the United States. But without passage of the DREAM Act, these young people--who have already proven themselves in our schools and communities--face a very uncertain future.

The DREAM Act would grant legal status to young adults brought to the United States as undocumented immigrant children. The rigorous requirements under the Act ensure that only contributing members of society who have already proven themselves to be law-abiding citizens and dedicated students would enjoy the benefits of the Act.

The stringent criterion prescribed by the DREAM Act ensures that the floodgates to illegal immigration will remain closed. Instead, the Act addresses the issue of young, undocumented children who have grown up in this country and excelled in school. As they seek to enlist in the military or continue their education and launch their careers, these motivated pro-American youngsters continue to run into unreasonable roadblocks. The DREAM Act prudently addresses those hurdles.

All members of society will benefit from the DREAM Act, not just a select few. Everyone wins when we educate the youth of tomorrow, encourage them to achieve their career goals, and motivate them to become productive citizens of our great country. As an educator and a person who was born in Cuba and immigrated at an early age, I am foremost an American who recognizes the importance of providing access to education to those who are truly committed to learning and personal growth.

As Americans, we have a moral obligation to address the immigration issues facing our country. The DREAM Act would be a great start to much-needed reform. As such, we urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act, blazing a trail for these young adults to become valuable, contributing members of the United States as they deserve.

* Madam Speaker, I strongly encourage my colleagues to bring the DREAM Act to the floor for immediate consideration.

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