Fighting for a DREAM

Supporters of the DREAM Act rallied in Fresno, California on November 19, 2010. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Supporters of the DREAM Act rallied in Fresno, California on November 19, 2010. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Take a moment and imagine yourself at your dream college or university. You have worked extremely hard to get yourself to where you stand and are about to graduate. Your adviser, parents, close family and friends all commend you on your successes but there is one dilemma. You will have earned this degree with excellent grades and exceptional knowledge but you are undocumented, which will prevent you from joining the workforce.

Thousands of undocumented students graduate from high schools and colleges every year with hopes of a decent future. Their ineligibility to legally work and receive financial aid stalls, diverts and derails their educational and economic trajectories, often bringing their dreams, successes and ambitions to a screeching halt. Perhaps even more terrifying, these youth are fearful that they will be deported at any time to an unfamiliar country that most of them left when they were infants.

The DREAM Act opens doors and creates alternative paths of achievement for individuals who qualify. In order to qualify, one must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have entered the United States before the age of 16,
  • Must have been present in the United States for at least five consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill,
  • Must have graduated from a United States high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education,
  • Must have “good moral character,”
  • Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application.
Support the DREAM Act rally in Fresno, California. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Support the DREAM Act rally in Fresno, California. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Those who support the DREAM Act believe it is fundamentally important to the undocumented students who would directly benefit from it but also to the country. It would bring opportunities to people who have been living in the United States since they were young while also allowing them to contribute their entrepreneurial ideas to industries like science and technology. While many people have voiced support for the DREAM Act, opposition does exist and the bill has had significant trouble passing both the House and Senate.

In this country we’ve been taught to believe that if you work hard enough, anything is possible. Unfortunately, ethnicity, race, class and the country you were born in makes that reality more difficult for some. For undocumented students – the majority of which have lived in the United States for most of their lives and identify as American – the failure to pass the DREAM Act has serious consequences.

If you are looking to get involved, we encourage you to join The Dream is Now campaign, where you can upload videos, sign petitions and tell your story through a documentary that is in the making.

By Chaquenya Johnson, Urban Policy Analysis & Management degree candidate at the New School for Public Engagement

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  1. David tapper

     /  May 7, 2013

    I believe in the dream act, and any progressive legislation that encompasses not only students, but others who contribute to your society daily but have to live in fear of being found. It is our job, it is our duty to find ways to include those who deserve to be a part of this great county, we are a county of immigrants, so why are we not treating those who work alongside us everyday like they belong here. They do, and we need to embrace our roots and get those stalwarts out of congress who do not look for the best in our country!


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