The D.R.E.A.M Act Needs To Be More Then Just A Dream

Students rally for the passage of the D.R.E.A.M Act last November in Fresno, California
Students rally for the passage of the D.R.E.A.M Act last November in Fresno, California | Source

Maria Monge was just six-years-old when her mother brought her and her two-year-old brother to the United States from Costa Rica in 1996.

Her father came here two years earlier. It was the first time that she met her dad's family. It was also the first time she ever saw snow. Maria would fall in love with America, the land of opportunity, where any and everything seemed possible. She loved America, even though she was always singled out by her classmates because she did not speak English. She loved America, even though she was forced to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" when she did not know any of the lyrics. All Maria wanted was to be accepted by her classmates, hell every kid wants to be accepted by their peers. But she was always the girl with the "accent". It was this experience that propelled her to be the best.

Her father came here two years earlier. It was the first time that she met her dad's family. It was also the first time she ever saw snow. Maria would fall in love with America, the land of opportunity where any and everything seemed possible. She loved America, even though she was always singled out by her classmates because she did not speak English. She loved America, even though she was forced to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" when she did not know any of the lyrics. All Maria wanted was to be accepted by her classmates; hell every kid wants to be accepted by their peers. But she was always the girl with the "accent". It was this experience that propelled her to be one of the best.

In seventh grade, Maria was one of only 200 students chosen to participate in NJSEEDS, a New Jersey program that sends inner-city students with strong grades to attend college, preparatory boarding, or day high schools. She attended Garrison Forest School, one of the most prestigious all-girl boarding schools in the country. In her senior year, she began to send in college applications, but she knew deep down inside that she would have little hope of getting in. Why? Because Maria Monge is undocumented.

This is where the D.R.E.A.M Act could have come to her rescue.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (D.R.E.A.M) Act was born during the in 2001 with the backing of Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. The bill would provide conditional permanent residency to undocumented students of good moral character (no criminal record) who graduate high school, arrived in the US illegally as a minor, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. If the student completed two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they would be granted temporary residency for six years. That is important, because within the six-year period any student who acquires a college degree or served in the military for two years without a dishonorable discharge,will be given a chance at full citizenship.

I see nothing wrong with that. True, illegal immigration is a problem, and I am a big believer in that you should enter the United States legally. But we are talking about kids here. Kids with dreams. Kids like Maria did not come here by choice. Her mother brought her here. So why should we penalize her and thousands of other children like her for trying to make the most out of themselves? It is not like she is smuggling drugs or anything. She was at the top of her class and wanted to go to college to make a better life for herself. Why should we deny them a chance at the American dream just because they do not have a social security number? Students like Maria are being denied the same American dream that US-born children take advantage of.

True, illegal immigration is a problem, and I am a big believer in that you should enter the United States legally. But we are talking about kids here. Kids with dreams. Kids like Maria did not come here by choice. Her mother brought her here, so why should we penalize her and thousands of other children like her for trying to make the most out of themselves? It is not like she is smuggling drugs or anything. She was at the top of her class and wanted to go to college to make a better life for herself. Why should we deny her and children like her a chance at the American dream just because they do not have a social security number? Students like Maria are being denied the same American dream that US-born children take advantage of.

Students like Maria are being denied the same American dream that US-born children take advantage of.

But the D.R.E.A.M Act is traveling on rough waters. In fact, it has been traveling on rough waters ever since it was born. One of the major hurdles to its passage is that we are slowly becoming an anti-immigrant nation. I mean, look at the immigration laws passed in the states over the past year and a half. From Arizona's "Show me your papers!" to an Alabama law that would treat undocumented immigrants as "trespassing" and can spend up to a year in prison. In an ABC poll, 42 percent of the people polled, said the priority of immigration reform should be to tighten border security and enforce more strict immigration laws. But in the same poll, they also said that the country needs to create ways for undocumented residents to become citizens if they meet certain conditions. Hence, the DREAM Act.

For Maria and the thousand of students like her, America is the beacon of the world. America is a country where opportunity is limitless, the land where all dreams can become a reality. But they soon come to see a country where their talents are little known, but their lack of a social security card is. But because they're not legal, does not mean that they cannot become a positive contributor to American society. Maria said this on her story on change.org:

"When a person is given one shot at something that they have been denied all their life, that one person will not take such an opportunity for granted."

She is still waiting for that one shot. A shot we should give her. That is why passing the D.R.E.A.M Act is so important.

And that is a dream we should all be fighting for.





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Comments 2 comments

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rockdresses 5 years ago from Turkey

Thanks a lot for your sharing!


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

I totally agree with you Kareem. Unfortunately our politics have become so polarized and hate has become so prevalent that this will not pass at this time. The Dream Act makes total sense. These children have succeeded and achieved and should be afforded citizenship. These are the types of citizens we need. Do not punish the children for the parents' sins. Great Hub.

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