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Rising Up to Demand Access to Schools

DREAMActivists: Taking up arms and fighting for the opportunity to be given a chance to prove they belong and can contribute

By Erick Huerta
Published on LatinoLA: September 24, 2009


Rising Up to Demand Access to Schools


The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act needs to be passed immediately. Commonly referred to as the DREAM Act, this bipartisan legislation will give thousands of college educated, undocumented residents a pathway to legal residency here in the U.S.

Through transnationalism, students have developed their identities and have now taken up arms and are fighting for the opportunity to be given a chance to prove that they belong here and can contribute greatly to the U.S.

Students who have graduated from colleges/universities with various degrees, but are unable to use them to their full potential because they cannot legally work, have taken the initiative to help get support for the DREAM Act from legislators, labor unions, public institutions and universities to sign resolutions that they support the passage of the DREAM Act.

Since it was last shot down in 2007 and reintroduced in March of this year, students, educators and allies have united forces and created a national wide network of support groups that are all working together making legislation visits, raising awareness and helping educate others about the DREAM Act and other issues attached to it.

This led to the creation of http://www.dreamactivist.org, which is a grassroots effort to organize groups and individuals all across the U.S. in actions and events that promote the passage of the DREAM Act. A local group here in Los Angeles, aptly named Dream Team Los Angeles, which is composed of local organizations, student support groups and individuals, helped pass a resolution from the Los Angeles Unified School District in support of the DREAM Act on Tuesday September 22.

Through the united efforts of all the different organizations and individuals working with the dream activist, the DREAM Act is receiving a lot of support from senators and congressmen and women because individuals have been making phone calls and visits, giving testimonials about the importance of the DREAM Act and showing them that supporting it will only be beneficial in the long run.

Despite the tremendous strides and accomplishments all these groups and individuals have made, xenophobes and nativist askew the facts about the DREAM Act and make accusations that say that allowing legislation like the DREAM Act to pass will only hurt the country more and take away resources and jobs from citizens. Groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a national non-profit organization, claim that by allowing the passage of legislation like the DREAM Act will further cripple and hurt the U.S. economy and give amnesty to undocumented residents. In a statement the group released on their website in March after the DREAM Act was reintroduced, FAIR president Dan Stein said, "Once again, Congress is ignoring the interests and concerns of hard-working, law-abiding Americans in order to reward illegal immigrants and pander to the illegal alien lobby.

"The American people have made it very clear that they reject amnesty for illegal aliens whether it's in one comprehensive bill, or piecemeal," Stein said.

"The DREAM Act would not only allow millions of newly legalized illegal aliens to compete for their jobs, but allow them to compete for their own children's educational opportunities.

"With private university tuitions already out of reach for most middle class families, and tuitions at public universities rising three times faster than median family incomes, the DREAM Act would be more than a reward for illegal aliens.

"It would crush the hopes and dreams of countless American families trying to provide opportunities to their own children."

Accusations such as these mirror those of the general public who don't completely understand what is going on and make decisions out of fear. The DREAM Act is not amnesty because the people who fall under the DREAM Act never committed any crime to begin with. They had no say and despite living in the shadows, they still abide by the laws and respect their adoptive home.

They are all far from taking away anyone else's jobs and fellow students educational opportunities because they work just as hard as everyone else to make a living. These are students, who despite not being eligible for financial aid of any kind, outside selective scholarships, paid for their college education with the help of family, friends and working two, three jobs at a time. They put themselves through school as AB 540 students, an assembly bill that allows students to pay instate tuition rather than out of state fees, and now just want an opportunity to use their degrees, contribute back to their adoptive country and have the same rights as everyone else.

Their economic contribution to the country would greatly benefit everyone as they would have the ability to work legally, pay all sorts of taxes, and buy a house, car, insurance and other things of that nature. All of it stimulating the economy and helping the country.

Since it was first introduced in 2001, the bill has yet to pass because of opposition from politicians who mirror the views their constituents have, in that the act will reward undocumented residents for breaking immigration laws.

The DREAM Act is a stepping stone in fixing our countries broken immigration system that has become abused and unjust in allowing people attain legal residency in the U.S. The DREAM Act focuses only on the select few who have risen to be productive members of society, despite living in the shadows. Students that qualify for the DREAM Act must have entered the country no later than the age of 16, have a high school diploma or GED, five year presence in the country and demonstrate good moral character. From there they must obtain a degree from a college/university or serve two years in the military, from which they will be able to legalize their residency and naturalize. Students that would greatly benefit from the DREAM Act were brought to the U.S. as infants or at a young age, like luggage, through no fault of their own. They have not only assimilated, but surpassed some of their fellow student's in terms of academics by graduating valedictorians, with honors and being accepted to some of the most prestigious colleges/universities in the U.S.

They have never stepped foot outside the U.S. and know nothing of the country they were born in. To deport them to a place they have never been is completely unjust and unwarranted because the only crime these kids have committed is living their lives like any other person born in the U.S.

To find out how to get more involved with the DREAM Act campaign go to http://www.dreamactivist.org and to find out what you can do locally, you can contact Dream Team Los Angeles at dreamteamlosangeles@gmail.com.


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