Friday, July 15, 2011

Why should the Dream Act be passed?

How would you feel if you were entering college with hopes of having a professional career but you are a student who is deprived from a nine digit social security number? For many students who are in this situation the Dream Act is their only hope. The federal Dream Act will allow a six-year conditional path to citizenship with the requirement of a college degree or two years in the military. As I was reading the Press Democrat newspaper, I came across a guest opinion article by Anne Beldem, a teacher in the journalism department at the Santa Rosa Junior College. The article was titled “Why thwart the dreams of youth.” Beldem discusses the stories of two of her students who would benefit greatly from the Dream Act. “Tony”,has been accepted to the journalism program at a California Sate University but he will have to pay full tuition because he does not have citizenship to apply for financial aid. After he graduates, he may not put his degree to use because he simply does not have a social security number.

When students are in situations like Tony’s, I can imagine why they do not want to reach for higher education or they perform poorly in school. This is what happened to Beldem’s second student “Grace.” Grace arrived to the United States at age four but she never realized that she was illegal until her parents told her when she was in high school. Upon learning of her status she became depressed and her grades began to fall. But she proudly worked hard and improved her grades and along with that she began to engage in community service. Beldem says, “65,000 Dreamers graduated from American high schools this spring. With a social security number, theses students can buy health, life and car insurance policies, pay fees and, most importantly taxes. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the Dream Act passes, Dreamers will collectively contribute $2.3billion to government revenues between 2011 and 2020.”

I can relate to what Beldem has witnessed in her journalism class with students that are Dreamers. I have many friends who are in similar situations but there is one that stands out in particular. I will call her “Sandy”. Sandy came to the United States at the age 4 after her mother became a single-mother with two children. Sandy has excelled in school especially in two areas, History and Math. Maintaining a GPA of a 3.7 and giving the community over 800 hours of community service. Sandy takes every opportunity she has to expand her knowledge in school and her community. She wants to go to a university right out of high school with the desire of becoming a dentist or a broadcaster. She is very confident overall but one insecurity that challenges her in not having citizenship. She will depend entirely on scholarships that do not require a social security number to pay for tuition. Imagine a bright courageous girl who will be the first in her family to attend college as she faces a long term challenge of paying for school, living expenses, finding a job, getting a license, and not being able to qualify for financial aid. These obstacles have slowly diminished her dream of attending a university right out of high school. She does not limit herself but she does realize that it will take longer to accomplish her dream than it would if she had a social security number. But then she faces the reality that without a social security number she may never reach her dream career because she will not be able to obtain a job.

If the Dream Act is passed not only will the dreamers contribute as tax payers like Beldem mentions, but they will have the opportunity to further their education and make our country a better place to live in. Their opportunities will be equal and more students may become motivated to be someone in life. I personally know that for my friend Sandy it will allow her to fulfill her career goals and one day give back to the community like a good citizen should. But in the end like Beldem says, “We should pass the federal and state Dream Acts because it’s the right thing to do.”

1 comment:

  1. I hope the Dream Act is passed soon. It would be a great opportunity for students who want to overcome as Sandy.