Reform is more than a dream

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March 1, 2011

12:18 AM

I have a friend from home who was an Advanced Placement student. She had good grades and was active in extracurricular activities ranging from school plays to the National Honor Society. She dreamed of going to college to study music, but she couldn’t. I’m from a small city in South Carolina, where we have large number of Mexican immigrants. Some of these immigrants came to the United States illegally. My friend is an “illegal.” She can’t go to college to pursue her dream because of a decision her parents made when she was only eleven: They decided to seek a better life and come to the U.S. It is because of her that I am a proponent of immigration reform and especially of the Developmeant, Relief, and Education Act.

The DREAM Act was introduced in Congress to help illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as minors become citizens. This chance is not a given, to qualify for the benefits of The DREAM Act, one must have met certain requirements — having been in the U.S. for a certain number of years or not having a criminal record, for example, the law would allow qualified individuals to become citizens — and as a result, would allow them to attend college.

Some of these students may be illegal because their parents illegally immigrated (like my friend). I cannot understand the idea that those minors should still be blamed. I’m not claiming they legally came here. When you were nine years old would your parents allow you to stay in a country they were attempting to leave? Most importantly, would you want them to? It always seems strange to me to think that as minors these individuals should be punished for something their parents did. No, their parents or guardians did not go through the immigration process properly, but their children had no choice in the matter. To say that they did so is ignorant, and honestly, quite foolish.

At the College of William and Mary, we care deeply about how students can help this country and contribute to our society. High school students who could be great assets to this college are never given the chance because of something over which they had no control. That policy is unfair. The College loves students dedicated to learning, and colleges all over the country are missing out on individuals who could possibly contribute a great deal to academia, business and other fields. Approving this bill would have provided many students the opportunity to succeed in life. Instead, factors beyond their control are now controlling what they are able to do in their lives. I view the DREAM Act as a way of bettering the country by ameliorating more qualified individuals a chance to succeed — like going to a four-year college or just becoming part of the labor force.

The requirements listed in the Dream Act are not easy. It is not a free ride; it is not amnesty. A person has to prove they want to be here. Why not give them the chance? This legislation would carve a way for children and teenagers to be able to obtain the American dream, and maybe even to come to the College. But the bill did not pass having had only 52 votes, not enough to stop a Republican filibuster. The DREAM Act has been introduced before, and it will probably come up again. Next time, stand with my friend and with me: Support the DREAM Act. Support the American dream.

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