Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dream A Big Dream

I've posted about The Dream Act before but I believe its worth posting about again. The great American dream is based on the fact that you can come from nothing and rise up to be a respected and succesful member of your community.
However, every year 65,000 students graduate from high school and are faced with the reality that they can not work legally, drive legally, or legally attain higher education. This is due to the fact that they were brought into the country at a young age and their parents either didn't follow the rigid legal protocol of immigration, or the paperwork fell to the wayside as time went by.
There is no pathway at this time to help all the young people who would like to become citizens. Because of some error that happened in childhood they will never be able to become citizens because there is no legal protocol to achieve it. However, The Dream Act, which is a bipartisan bill, will create a set of guidelines that if followed will lead to citizenship for young people. The rules are as follows:
--if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age of 35,
--attend college or enlist in the military.
--have lived here continuously for five years,
--graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED
--have good moral character with no criminal record

There are tons of amazing young people standing up for this bill. Tons of kids put themselves through college without student aide or the flexibility of work study jobs - only to find that they can't enter their dream profession. Many who you see on the frontlines fighting have studied to become doctors, scientists, teachers, lawyers, and yet can't work in those fields legally. In the latest manifestation of The Dream Act there would be no state or federal financial aide for these students - just the opportunity to try. Some of these kids also fear talking about their status because they could be sent back to the country they were brought from as a small child - a country that is sometimes dangerous to return to.
I've been hoping this could pass for a few years now, but sometimes change happens slowly. Racism and classism are oftentimes legally built into our American system and it takes directed change to reform the beliefs of the past and build a fair system. Just a few months ago New York became the first state to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This bill will protect nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for the sick and elderly - providing them with paid overtime, days off, and legal protection from sexual and physical abuse. Governor Patterson said himself that these workers would have been included in the original workers rights bill had they not been so predominantly black and latino. The Dream Act works toward equality in the same way, providing those who are working hard with a framework to function in legal boundaries that the rest of us have taken for granted.
Here is David Cho, winner of the Campus Progress and Huffington Post College's Student Keynote Contest, talking about why we should pass The Dream Act.

You can go here to sign The Dream Act petition. And here to ask your congressperson to support it.

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