Art by Nico of Los Poets del Norte
When I was kid, I was always told in school that you needed to go to college to get a better quality of life. Teachers always encouraged me and my fellow students to pursue a college education. They would ask the class, “what do you wanna be when you grow up ?” I always said that I wanted to be a vegetarian, because I love animals and I wanna help them. The teacher would then correct me and say, “ohh you mean veterinarian, silly.” The class would laugh and we would move on to the next kid who wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, a dentist etc. Never once in my life growing up did it occur to me that in order to be anything great in this country, that I am proud to call my home, that you needed papers. I figured that if I did like my teachers said, I got good grades, applied myself and worked hard I would get into a college and make something of myself. Lies. Fucking lies. For the last 18 years I have been living in the U.S. as an undocumented resident because my parents wanted to move here back in November 1991. I pretended to be my cousin, while my mom and 2 year old and 1 year old sisters crossed the border in the middle of the night. Finally meeting up with my dad again after he came to the U.S. two months earlier to get things ready for us. My story is one that thousands of other undoc individuals share, that of being brought to another country by their parents, through no choice of their own. We have assimilated, succeed and excelled in this country and yet, we are denied from reaching our full potential once we have those college degrees, we can’t legally work. Technically we don’t even exist in this country.
With the political climate the way it is right now concerning immigration in the U.S., the kind of immigration reform people are demanding from Obama and Congress isn’t going to happen any time soon. I’m tired of people demanding that more than 12 million undoc individuals in this country be given a legal status. To me, personally, they’re high as a fucking kite asking, let a lone demanding things like that. The country can’t make that happen considering everything else that’s going on. How can it bring in millions of people if it’s still trying to figure out how to solve the economic situation. Despite the positive arguments for immigration reform here, here and here, I am fucking tired of all these organizations and people that are fighting for immigration reform that are blinded by pride or just don’t have plain common sense that if the DREAM (Federal Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act passes first, it would set the stage for the kind of reform they are demanding now.
The DREAM Act has all the components both side want from immigration reform. It’s not amnesty as people make it out to seem when they argue against it. The bill itself mandates that if an individual is in this country before the age of 16, gets a high school diploma, puts in 2 years at a college towards a degree or joins the military and serves for 2 years, they will qualify for legal temporary residence. They will the be put in a probation period of 6 years, which they have to fulfill the above requirements and have a clean record free of criminal activity, they will be given permanent legal status. Basically, if we prove that we are contributing to this country, getting an education and not being a drain on society, we can earn the right to be legal residents. Key word here being EARNED. As DREAM students, we are asking for the opportunity to give back and succeed in where other citizens have not. I am a first generation DREAM Act student and since 2002, everytime it has been taken up for a vote, it has failed to pass.
We need to pass the DREAM Act now. Immigration reform is too late and AmeriKKKa won’t allow it. Imagine how much more impact real immigration will have once DREAM students have fixed their status, are college educated and continue to fight for their parents by championing immigration reform when it comes up ? All this unused potential is going down the drain because people don’t wanna compromise. They can’t understand that in order from thing major to happen, you have to take tiny steps in that direction. Learning to crawl before we walk and before we even start thinking of running.
Whenever I give presentations at classes, or I’m a speaker at a panel or just explaining the issue to someone new, I always use super hero analogies. Take the ultimate immigrant, Superman. Sent from another planet by his parents so he could have a chance at life. Adopted by an old fashioned, country couple. Raised to up hold truth, justice and the American way. An illegal alien if I ever saw one. He uses his powers to defend not only the U.S. but the everyone in his comic universe. But imagine for a second if Superman was deported to another country because of his legal status. All that potential and greatness, gone. By failing to pass the DREAM Act now, thousands of students are being stopped from making this country a better place. From achieving their ultimate potential and barred from living a life free of fear, anger and depression. Pass the DREAM Act now.