An urge to pass the DREAM Act

Kasim Hardaway

The DREAM Act has created a lot of controversy on U.S. soil.

According to the DREAM Act, an estimated 65,000 undocumented adolescencts graduate from high school every year. The purpose of the legislation is to make the process of legalization available to them.

This opportunity would not be available without the DREAM Act.

The dream of many undocumented citizens has been put in this proposed bill that may one day be the key to their citizenship in the U.S.

The bill was first introduced in 2001 at a Congressional Session but now has a different look from amendments and editing. According to the National Immigration Law Center, there are two versions of the bill; the name DREAM Act is an acronym for the old Senate version of the bill.

It was named “The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2009.” The House version is “The American Dream Act.”

The most current form of the DREAM Act in the House was introduced by Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) and Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) on Dec. 7, 2010.

The most current Senate version was introduced by Richard Durbin (D-IL) on Nov. 30, 2010.

According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, if passed, both versions of the DREAM Act would allow certain undocumented students to begin the process of legalization. Under certain qualifications, those students would be eligible for a six-year conditional residency.

The qualifications for that residency are as follows, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

Arrived in the U.S. under the age of 16;

Lived in the U.S. for at least five years; and

Completed high school or earned a GED

Following the six year conditional residency, the student may be eligible to convert to permanent resident status if they complete

“Two years at a two year college or four year college or serve in the armed forces for two or more years,” according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. The students who qualify for this process of legalization would have their lives changed dramatically. The DREAM Act would “reduce deficits by about $2.2 billion over the 2011-2020 period. That result reflects a decrease in on-budget deficits of $4 million over that period and a decrease in off-budget deficits of about $2.2 billion over the same period,” according to www.americasvoiceonline.org.

It would also increase those qualified for the U.S. armed forces, reduce high school dropout rates and increase college attendance levels.

The students who qualify for this process of legalization would have an exponential increase for their average future earnings therefore increasing the amount of taxes they would pay. I see this as a benefit for all Americans because through an increase in taxes paid our economy would began to balance itself out again, putting the U.S. into a more financially stable situation.

However, the DREAM Act is simply a bill, what keeps it alive and strong is the movement behind it, which is led by “undocumented youth willing to put their lives at risk, with actions such as sit-ins and hunger strikes,” said Diana Martinez a local Kansas City Dream Advocator.

Martinez was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and was moved here as a young child along with her family, so the DREAM Act is something that is personally relevant to her.

Martinez has been involved with the DREAM Act for “11 months.”

She founded the local network Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance (KSMODA) through a friend. And as a close friend of Martinez, I have seen many of the struggles she has been through.

“DREAM Act is not just another piece of legislation; it is a bill that would change thousands of students’ lives,” Martinez said. “It would give us, the undocumented students, the basic rights that many Americans take advantage of. We have fought hard, despite all of the opposition, and we will continue to fight.”

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