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Dreaming the DREAM Act

You may have heard of the DREAM Act.

This past weekend I attended the G92 Immigration Conference at Cedarville University in Ohio and heard from several “Dreamers.”  I thought I knew what the DREAM Act was before I listened to their stories. 

They were four amazing young people from around the country.  All of them were college graduates.  All spoke perfect English and were raised in the US.  And all of them were illegally brought to the States by their parents when they were children.

I had thought that the DREAM Act was a way for undocumented students to be allowed access to federal aid for college.  It turned out I was wrong and it is actually much more and much less than that.

I say it is much less because it doesn’t provide any access to aid for undocumented students desiring to go to college.  Students still have to pay for their school with private scholarships or personal funding, and in some cases, are required to pay out-of-state tuition in the state in which they’ve lived most of their life.

However, it is much more because it opens up a path to legalization for theses students that isn’t currently available to them in any way.  One of the Dreamers explained that the Act has several prerequisites:

1. They must have come to the States before the age of 15 and lived here 5 consecutive years.
2. They must have graduated from a US High School or obtained a GED from a US institution.
3. They must have “good, moral character.” (This qualification seems to be somewhat ambiguous and fluid from what I’ve read, but is being generally interpreted as no criminal history.)
4. They must attend 2 years of college or serve 2 years in the military.

The DREAM Act would then qualify them to obtain probationary status, which they maintain for 10 years before becoming legal permanent residents.  After that, they must wait another 5 years before they can apply for citizenship, which includes voting privileges. 

Personally, I don’t completely agree with all of the qualifications or the 15 year wait to be able to vote, but I am thrilled at the opportunity this legislation could open up for some young adults who are hanging onto this DREAM Act with all their hope for the future.

The young lady who shared at the conference expressed that she has lived in the States since the age of 6 and has a college degree in Social Work, but is unable to get a job because her of her status.  This breaks my heart deeply.  

Regardless how you feel about the choices parents have made, these are children of America who want to contribute to society in legitimate ways.  As you feel led, please let your Senators and Representatives know that you care about the DREAM Act.  We are moving into another polarized, radical, people-ignoring year of political ridiculousness.  Please let your politicians know that this is an important piece of legislation. 

P.S. You can go to votesmart.org to find out who represents you in your area.   
P.S.S. As with all things immigration, some states, such as Illinois and California, have passed their own DREAM Acts, which open some doors for Dreamers, but still cannot offer legal permanent residence.

2 comments

  1. agreed! i fully support the DREAMers. i would have loved to have attended the conference. do you know if i can find any of it on a podcast?

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  2. It would've been great to meet you there! I don't recall them mentioning anything about podcasts, but I'd suggest tweeting @matthewsoerens. I bet he would know for sure.

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