As the Obama administration and Congress look toward reforming immigration law to deal with the estimated 12 million people living in the United States without proper documentation, there's one fix that warrants immediate attention: the DREAM Act.
This proposed law, which has failed in Congress year after year, would give high-achieving children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to stay in this country and go on to military service or college, paying in-state tuition and able to qualify for scholarships and other financial aid. It would provide a path to legal residency for young people who had no say where they should be raised.
Many of them don't speak their native language well or write it correctly, yet U.S. immigration policy now requires that they be deported. Some of these students arrived so young that they do not know they are undocumented until they apply for college and are asked to submit verification of their immigration status.
On Tuesday, about 500 such students from across the nation went to Washington to take part in a symbolic graduation ceremony to urge Congress to support the DREAM Act. A rally the same day at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus stressed the importance of tapping into the creativity of America's next generation. Faith leaders, business organizations, labor unions and civil- and immigrant-rights groups have come together to push for this sensible change in the law.
The case of Juan and Alex Gomez, students in South Florida whose Colombian parents were deported a couple years ago, stands out as an example of why the DREAM Act is needed. Juan is now studying at Georgetown on scholarship and Alex is studying and working in South Florida, thanks to a special temporary law that Congress passed to keep them in the country.
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