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As the effort to pass the DREAM Act hits its 10th anniversary, churches, synagogues and mosques around the country will devote a September weekend to teaching their congregations about the faith-based reasons to work for its passage. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., flanked by priests, bishops, rabbis, ministers and an imam, announced July 12 in a news conference at the Capitol that Sept. 23-25 will be DREAM Act Sabbath. Faith leaders said they and their fellows would devote time during or after worship services to explaining the legislation and offering testimony from young people who would be affected by it, all geared toward mustering legislative support. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act has been a perennial effort sponsored by Durbin. The version currently before the Senate, S. 952, has 34 co-sponsors. It would apply to people who were brought to the United States before age 15, who have earned a high school diploma or the equivalent and are admitted to college or who enlist in the military. The bill includes a lengthy list of requirements, such as background checks and registering for Selective Service, before providing a six-year window during which the applicant is protected from deportation and may apply for permanent residency as long as they continue to meet the criteria. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said at the press conference that "these are Americans, for all practical purposes," and that many DREAM Act supporters, who call themselves "Dreamers" risk deportation in order to advocate for the chance to become U.S. citizens through its provisions. "Why would we not want to embrace their dedication, energy, talents, and courage -- characteristics that have made our nation great? It would be to our detriment to forsake them." He said that speaking on behalf of fellow bishops, "we plan to promote the DREAM Act Sabbath." Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, said as an immigrant himself he especially treasures the American value of welcoming the stranger. "We will stand together in solidarity ... imams and clergy.”

 

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