In the summer of 2010 hundreds of undocumented students descended upon Washington, DC, all in the name of equal rights and access to higher education for all. While many other parts of the country were encountering their own inner battles within the sphere of immigration debate and Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), the “DREAMers”, a youth activist group of documented and undocumented alike, set up camp in the nation’s capital in order to urge Congress to pass the Dream Act. In December of 2010, the DREAM ACT failed to pass the Senate by only a few votes.
Currently, approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants live within the United States borders. Of those 11 million, approximately 1.6 million of them are so called “DREAMers”; youth brought over to the U.S by their parents, searching for a better life, at a young age at no fault of their own, and who currently reside, work, and exist within our society. They are American in every sense of the word, but live without the security of having proper documentation to be able to function as full members of society.
The Dream Act would provide a passageway to citizenship for many undocumented youth who call the United States their home. Many of these undocumented students have lived in the U.S since an early age, but cannot attend college or receive financial aid to attend a higher education institution due to lack of papers and a social security number. Many must resort to living like second-class members of our society. From an early age they have lived under the idea that if you work hard you will then benefit the full rewards that the United States has to offer, only to find out that they cannot.
This year with the possibility of a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s broken immigration system looming in the air, the debate has become even more heated. While border security, guest worker programs, and many other issues are being debated within the overhaul issue, the inclusion of DREAMers remains to be an important element of the entire overhaul. In the summer of 2011 President Barack Obama signed an executive order know as “Deferred Action” to provide a temporary solution for many of these youth DREAMers. While the solution helps temporarily, this year marks an even bigger moment with the possibility of passing sensitive and humane immigration reform in a nation that has always existed as a nation of immigrants.