Dreamers seek fair immigration reform
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was first introduced into the U.S. Congress in 2001. At the time, it was a bipartisan legislation with wide support but couldn’t get enough votes to enact it into law. Over the years different iterations have been introduced, but all have failed in one way or another. Support for the legislation from Republicans has also waned as immigration has become a very partisan issue.
The rise of the Tea Party has created one of the most divided congresses in modern history. Those who once co-sponsored the legislation became aligned with the native fringes of the GOP. Sen. John McCain who once supported the bill, and even hugged “dreamer” Gaby Pacheco, wouldn’t even speak to her in 2010.
The DREAM Act would give those who are in this country “through no fault of their own” a pathway to citizenship because they are stuck in a legal limbo waiting years for immigration appointments. They are American in every other way. The only way for them become legalized would be to marry a citizen, find a job to sponsor them or have a family member who is a citizen apply for them.
Those eligible for the DREAM Act have to prove they entered the country before the age of 15 and have been living here continuously for at least five years since the law’s passing. They also have to pass a background check and be under the age of 30.
Those who would be eligible under the DREAM Act have been coined as “dreamers” and have retained hope that immigration reform is possible.
Dreamers even recently started a movement in which they “came out” as undocumented, and lobbied elected officials in a “No Fear” campaign. There have been hunger strikes, sit-ins and protests across the country and, for a while, it seemed they were yelling at a brick wall.
On June 15, President Barack Obama enacted an executive order that allowed the dreamers to stay in the country for at least two years and get work authorization as long as they met certain requirements. The order does not give a pathway to citizenship and those in the program must reapply every two years. If they are denied, they cannot appeal the decision.
Many students don’t really know what their next step should be. There is a fear of deportation for themselves and their families. There are many questions that are yet to be answered. The government has said family members of those who apply won’t be targeted, however the government can say one thing and do another.
If a new president comes along though, what would happen? What happens after two years? One thing is for sure, this is merely a temporary solution and immigration reform is still necessary. The sad truth is that if the country can’t decide on how to deal with those who had no choice over their situation, how will it deal with their parents?
Dreamers have stated that they will remain committed to immigration reform and hopefully the country can finally come up with a solution that is fair and humane for everyone involved. For the mean time those who think they are eligible should speak to a lawyer or professional and above all else keep their record clean.
Alex Caballero is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]