NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on the White House immigration reform plan

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement on Jan. 29 after the release of the White House plan for immigration reform:

On behalf of the more than 3 million members of NEA, we welcome President Barack Obama’s vision to continue moving comprehensive immigration reform forward. As educators, we have witnessed for far too long the impact that the current immigration system has had on our students, their families, and our communities. We join the growing chorus of voices calling on lawmakers to create a common-sense immigration process for aspiring Americans, one that includes a roadmap for new Americans to become citizens.

We are pleased that the vision that President Obama outlined reflects our values and our rich tradition of embracing people who move to make life better for themselves and their families. We see them every day in our classrooms, schools, and our communities. They are our students, friends, and our neighbors. They move to put food on the table, to provide for their families, or for the promise of freedom and opportunity in this country. And we are all better for having hardworking new immigrants as contributing members of our communities.

The president’s proposal builds on the extraordinary success of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and incorporates DREAMERS into the mainstream of life so that this country can continue to reap the benefits of their hard work, ingenuity, and achievements. And we welcome the administration’s commitment to support the value of keeping families together. We agree that efficient, fair, and effective avenues for legal, family-based immigration are vital to keeping America strong. Reuniting families kept apart by current arcane and bureaucratic immigration laws will provide significant benefit to children, who will be able to receive the full support and care provided by unified families.

For new American immigrants waiting in the shadows of society, there is no daylight without Congressional and White House action. As a nation of immigrants, how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us.

We urge Congress to move swiftly and on a bipartisan fashion on this important issue. We thank President Obama for his leadership on this important issue and we look forward to working with him and his administration on creating a common-sense immigration process for aspiring citizens.