Making dreams come true

Miguel Laureano Damian

Miguel Laureano Damian

Miguel Laureano , Staff reporter

Imagine growing up in a life you thought was normal. Going to school everyday for 12 years, working hard then finding out that you can’t go to college. That is the problem faced by at least 2.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. They are the dreamers. I am a dreamer.

Dreamer is the name given to undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act) is a bill that allows legal status to these undocumented immigrants.

I was born in Mexico, a place I barely remember. I was brought to this country when I was only five years old, my parents seeking to give me a better future and a better life. Growing up, I had no idea what being undocumented was. It wasn’t difficult to feel different. It was more than evident that I didn’t belong the minute I stepped into my kindergarten class and couldn’t understand a single word my teacher said. At that time I felt ashamed, which kept me in a shell all the way through high school.

The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001, and was reintroduced and failed several times. This meant that for 2.1 million Dreamers – students for the most part – college and a path to citizenship was just that: a dream. The bill finally passed in 2012, thereby opening the door to immigrant kids who wanted to have a better life.

Some said these foreigners broke the law by coming into this country illegally. It’s like trying to get into a Seahawks game without a ticket. However, putting the blame on these Dreamers would be like someone sneaking into the game while carrying their 4-year-old child, and the child being accused and held responsible for the actions of their parents. These Dreamers never had or made the choice of coming to this country undocumented. Then again, was it really wrong? Martin Luther King once said “an unjust law is no law at all.” Is a chance at a better life a crime? Faced with poverty and crime, would one not break laws for the safety and future of their family?

Before 2012, these Dreamers lived in the shadows, unable to get jobs, go to college or even open a bank account. It wasn’t until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) was passed that they were able to step out of the shadows without fear.

DACA allows for those who are eligible to gain a work permit, a social security number and relief from deportation. However, it does not grant legal status or a path to citizenship and must be renewed every two years.  This was only a temporary solution to a much bigger problem. The eligibility requirements are selective, to say the least.

DACA falls under the “we’ll-give-you-an-inch-so-you-don’t-ask-for-a-mile” umbrella. As a community, Dreamers are supposed to be grateful for all the benefits that DACA grants but it is only temporary. DACA had passed, but the Dream Act was still pending.

It’s important to note that the Dream Act would not grant any special help; it simply leveled the playing field. It also doesn’t grant just anybody the right to a path to citizenship. But those who are able to meet the requirements could be the world’s next leaders, advocates and scholars.

I’m no longer ashamed. Shaking off my fear has allowed me to go from a very shy kid with no outlook on the future to learning that there’s always hope and a reason to keep dreaming.