Denying the American dream

The DREAM Act would grant students their rights to higher education.

As crucial political debates took center stage all over the country this past month, the issue of immigration was hot on the lips of candidates as solutions to border security and pathways to citizenship were fervently debated.

One of these hotly debated topics was the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, a bipartisan federal proposal which, if passed, would facilitate access to college for immigrant students by giving states the right to offer in-state tuition to those immigrant students living in their state.

The passing of this act would be a commendable victory in the fight for immigrant rights and equal access to higher education and has the potential to make the “American Dream” a possibility for all.

Unfortunately, today, because of their immigration status, undocumented students are refused the opportunities that make higher education affordable such as in-state tuition, state and federal grants and loans, and the possibility of legally working their way through college.

Most of these children have spent their whole lives in the United States and have grown up in the American K-12 schools. They identify with the American culture and in all aspects see themselves as Americans. In all ways that count, they are American.

Furthermore, the idea that rejecting the DREAM Act is a powerful tool for fighting illegal immigration is misguided and false, as the true victims in fact had no say in the way in which way they entered this country.

The majority of these immigrant students did not have the opportunity to decide to enter the country illegally and should not individually be held accountable for a decision made by their parents, which society deems as reprehensible.

In addition, the act would provide a pathway for hardworking immigrant youth to not only pursue their dreams of higher education, but would enable them to attain the skills to contribute back fully to our society.

As a country that is the “land of opportunity,” we should be ashamed of ourselves for denying higher education to aspiring and talented students because of a crime they were unaware of committing.