WASHINGTON – In an April 3 letter to sponsors of the legislation, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed the support of the USCCB for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (or DREAM Act), legislation which would legalize the status of thousands of undocumented youth in the United States.

The legislation (S. 729, H.R. 1751) applies to young persons who entered the United States before the age of 15, have been physically present in the United States for five years, and have earned a high school diploma. The bill would also repeal federal restrictions that limit the ability of states to offer them in-state tuition.

The letters were sent to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), primary sponsors in the U.S. Senate, and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), primary sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This legislation would make a difference in the lives of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents and now, because of their lack of legal status, face obstacles to their future,” Bishop Wester wrote.

The bill would apply to students in both public and private schools, including Catholic schools. Young persons would become eligible for permanent legal status upon completion of two years of college or two years of honorable service in the military. Approximately 65,000 youth per year would benefit from the DREAM Act.

“The DREAM Act represents a practical, fair and compassionate solution for thousands of young persons who simply want to reach their God-given potential and contribute to the well-being of our nation. We urge Congress to pass this measure as soon as possible,” Bishop Wester said.