Immigrants are US’ past, future



Column by Christiana Holsapple. E-mail [email protected].

We all had experiences as kids when we weren’t happy with a decision our parents made for us.

It might have been the awful too-short haircut or the move that took us away from our friends and made us the new kid in school. Without a doubt, parents make choices for their children without their children’s approval.

These are mild examples and ones with ramifications easily overcome. A very different picture is the thousands of young people currently in the U.S. who were brought here by their parents before the age of 16. These kids grow up in America and attend American schools.

In fact, they are American in just about every way, except they don’t have papers that say so. As a result, they live in fear of deportation to a country they perhaps hardly remember. They are ineligible for federal aid to pursue higher education. Is it right these children are forced to bear incredibly negative consequences for a decision that was made without their consent, often without their knowledge?

When I try to explain the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, to friends or classmates, often they merely hear the word “alien,” and already they are against anything I say. It is important to be very clear about the stipulations of this proposed legislation.

Unlike what many blindly argue, the DREAM Act would not encourage further undocumented or “illegal” immigration, as the law will only apply to people who have resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the law’s enactment.

This means only immigrants already here would be eligible — the law provides no incentive for further immigration.

Moreover, the path to documentation would not be one just anyone could successfully navigate. The act requires eligible people to have graduated high school or earned a GED and either served two years in the military or attended college for two years. Plus, they must maintain good moral character, meaning they become ineligible after having committing any sort of misdemeanor.

The DREAM Act is not something that would take taxpayers’ money to provide grants to undocumented immigrants. Rather, it will simply make students eligible for federal student loans and work-study, meaning that any financing received must either be worked for or paid back.

President Obama has voiced his support for the DREAM Act, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities has stated advocacy, and it is part of the Department of Defense’s 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.

Thousands across the nation would benefit from it, yet because so much ignorance and apathy still exist, the law has not been able to pass. It’s not right that there are so many young people with the potential to contribute to our nation, but who are not able to because of a decision their parents made years ago.

The DREAM Act would fix this. The U.S. began as and still is a nation of immigrants.

Given the chance, I believe that today’s immigrants could serve our country just as well as those throughout America’s history. Support the DREAM Act.