Secretaries of Education and Labor Met With Illegal Aliens at Ed. Dept. HQ

January 6, 2012 - 12:58 PM
Hilda Solis, Arne Duncan

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Education Secretary Arne Duncan meeting at the Department of Education with a group that, according to the Department of Labor's newsletter, included a "majority" of people who were "DREAMers." (Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams)

(CNSNews.com) - A group of illegal aliens visited the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 15 where they held a “Student Voices” meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, according to information about the meeting posted on the official Department of Education and Department of Labor websites.

Department of Education Spokesman Jim Bradshaw, while acknowledging receiving questions about the meeting from CNSNews.com, failed to respond to those questions after they were put to him via both phone and email messages on Thursday and Friday of this week.

At the meeting, according to the Department of Labor’s website, Duncan told the illegal aliens about the administration’s “efforts to assist students who are undocumented” through the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act—the DREAM Act. Solis also spoke to the illegal aliens about the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, sponsored by Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (Ill.), would legalize illegal aliens who had entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday, who had been in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the passage of the act, and who had been admitted to a college or earned a high school diploma or a general education development certificate.

The Department of Education reported on the meeting between the illegal aliens and the two Cabinet secretaries in an article published on the department’s official blog.

The blog article, written by a New Mexico high school teacher designated as a “guest blogger,” was headlined: “Secretaries Duncan and Solis Meet with DREAMers.” The article explained that “DREAMer” is “a label derived from the ‘DREAM Act’ that the students use to describe undocumented young people.”

An online newsletter published by the Department of Labor said that “the majority” of the students who attended the meeting with Duncan and Solis were “DREAMers” who “spoke candidly about their uncertain futures and the possibility of deportation.”

[To see video of the Department of Education blog article and the Department of Labor's newsletter article and slideshow on Duncan's and Solis's meeting with the "DREAMers" click below:]

The piece on the Department of Education blog said: “The frank conversation between the Secretaries and the group of young advocates largely revolved around the obstacles undocumented youth face while living in the United States, particularly limited access to higher education.”

“Several of the students discussed how difficult it was to be a ‘DREAMer’—a label derived from the ‘DREAM Act’ that the students use to describe undocumented young people who have lived in the U.S. from a very young age,” said the blog report.

The blog also said the students complained to the two Cabinet secretaries that not having a Social Security Number blocked an illegal alien from applying to college and winning scholarships.

“The students explained their frustration and disappointment that they cannot fulfill their dreams of a college degree once they graduate high school, good grades and hard work are rendered invalid the day they learn they can’t apply to colleges or scholarships without having a social security number,” said the blog.

One student told that Cabinet secretaries that he was unable to afford college in the United States because he did not qualify for financial assistance.

“‘I got in to a top school,’ said one now non-student with tears welling up in his eyes,” said the blog. “‘But I deferred because I don’t have a way of paying for it. I can’t apply for financial aid, so Work Study is out.’”

The DOE blog also described “undocumented students” as “promising nation-builders.”

“There is irony in the fact that the U.S. has an abudance [sic] of undocumented students who are extremely motivated, informed, who earn excellent grades, and who have developed marketable skills,” said the blog. “And yet, we are turning away promising nation-builders in droves.”

The story in the Department of Labor’s online newsletter about the meeting was entitled: “Working to Make DREAM a Reality.” It said that Duncan and Solis had had “a lively discussion” about the DREAM Act with the students.

According to the DOL newsletter, the “majority” of the students attending the meeting with the two Cabinet secretaries were “DREAMers”—and thus illegal aliens. “The students, the majority of whom are DREAMers, spoke candidly about their uncertain futures and the possibility of deportation,” said the newsletter.

The Department of Labor's website also posted a “slideshow” of photographs from the meeting. The caption for one of these photos reads: “Secretaries Solis and Duncan listen to students, many of whom DREAMers [sic], facing uncertain future of deportation.”

The caption for another photo says: “Secretary Duncan speaks about efforts to assist students who are undocumented, i.e., supporting the passage of DREAM Act.”

CNSNews.com contacted the press office of the Department of Education on Thursday morning to ask some questions about Duncan’s and Solis’s Dec. 15 meeting. The press office directed CNSNews.com to the voicemail of DOE Spokesman Jim Bradshaw. CNSNews.com left four questions on Bradshaw’s voicemail and then emailed the questions to Bradshaw’s DOE email address.

CNSNews.com also emailed Bradshaw links to the article on the Department of Education's blog about the meeting, the piece in the Department of Labor's newsletter, and the Department of Labor's slideshow of photos from the meeting. The questions CNSNews.com asked Bradshaw were:

-- How many undocumented aliens came to the meeting?

-- Did they go through any security checks? How were they positively identified if they did not have legal documents attesting accurately to who they were?

-- What countries were they from?

-- Has Secretary Duncan (Solis) had any other meetings with illegal aliens at the Department of Education, or was this the first?

Bradshaw initially responded to CNSNews.com via email on Thursday morning, saying: “I’ll see what we can get for you on this.”

However, Bradshaw did not respond to follow-up emails on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning or to a second voice message left on Friday morning. Thus far, the Department of Education has not answered CNSNews.com's questions.

The newsletter on Department of Labor website said Duncan’s and Solis’s meeting was with “students and members of the United States Student Association and United We Dream.”

In the “Vision & Mission” statement on its website, United We Dream says: “We aim to address the inequalities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and to develop a sustainable, grassroots movement, led by immigrant youth, documented and undocumented, and children of immigrants.”

On a webpage explaining its own history, the United States Student Association says it has worked organizing students “as a nascent national student union in the late forties, as a cautiously liberal organization in the fifties, as an increasingly activist federation of student governments in the sixties, as a radical antiwar outfit in the early seventies, and as a broad-based progressive advocacy group in the eighties and nineties.”