IMMIGRANT STUDENTS HOPE FOR THE DREAM

April 21, 2008 at 3:41 am Leave a comment

Eva Romero / Adelante
Volume II, Issue 2 (March 2008)

Almost 3 million students will graduate from high school in the United States this year. Some of them will continue their education in college, join the military or enter the workforce.

Of this number, however, approximately 60,000 high school graduates will have no such opportunity – not for lack of intelligence or motivation, but because these students have inherited the title of “illegal immigrant.”

Proposed by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, in November 2005, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act, will authorize the children of illegal immigrants to attend college or serve in the armed forces with eligibility for legal status. If adopted, the act will amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which drastically heightened consequences for illegal immigrants.

Currently, children who immigrate to the U.S. can only obtain legal status from their parents. If a child is brought into the country illegally, there is no method of becoming a legal resident.

Under the DREAM Act, an immigrant would be granted “conditional” status during the first six years and required to either complete two years of college or serve two years in the military. After this period, an immigrant would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.

“This state has invested thousands of dollars in my education, but after I graduate I won’t be able to contribute to its economy,” Viridiana Tule said. Tule is a radio-television-film and Spanish literature junior at UT. Her parents moved from Guanajuato, Mexico because her father needed a better job to put Tule through school.

Students like Tule can attend college in the U.S., but are ineligible for work authorization and Social Security numbers that would allow them to participate in the regular workforce, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

Both Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, support the DREAM Act. Republican candidate John McCain denounces it.

“The DREAM Act ensures that the promise of the American Dream becomes a reality for all our children, and I am disappointed that the Senate failed to pass it,” Clinton said in a recent speech. “The enactment of this legislation is long overdue, and I will continue to fight for its passage.”

Sen. McCain said the act legitimizes illegal alien students and “rewards” illegal behavior. Supporters say it provides educational opportunities for children who did not choose to enter the U.S. illegally.

“Even though I am in college now, it has been ridiculously difficult,” said Sobeyda Gomez, a pre-med biomedical engineering junior. “It’s as if the system aims to keep us away from school.”

Both Tule and Gomez are involved in the University Leadership Initiative, a group dedicated to promoting higher education in Latino, African-American, Asian and immigrant communities. ULI members are working to plan the Texas DREAM Summit on March 22, an event to unite all Texas DREAM Act supporters.

“I refuse to think that everything would go to waste,” Tule said. “I need the DREAM Act to pass so that I can become a fruitful member of society.”

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Entry filed under: March 2008 issue. Tags: , , , , , , .

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