As the Gang of Eight prepares to introduce immigration reform legislation, support continues to build for a plan that would once and for all fix America's broken immigration system. Last week, tens of thousands of people marched to Capitol Hill to call for immigration reform. Poll after poll demonstrates that Americans of all political persuasions, want a common sense solution to the nation's failed immigration policies, including a plan to provide undocumented youth and their families a chance to earn their citizenship. After years of debate, we are so very close to realizing such a plan.
However, we have come close before: previous reform efforts enjoyed considerable momentum only to lose steam at the last minute. In this moment, Americans must come together to call Congress to act. The time is now.
Today, in this spirit, Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim (Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman) and immigration reform advocate Laurene Powell Jobs have released a powerful tool to broaden support for reform, a new 30-minute documentary called The Dream is Now. The documentary tells the stories of undocumented youth and their families who are desperate to earn citizenship in the only country they call home -- the United States of America.
The documentary effort, which culminated after hundreds of Americans submitted their stories and calls for action to The Dream is Now, is timely. There are, for example, millions of undocumented young people in America. Many were brought here as children and raised as Americans. These individuals are our friends, neighbors, and classmates. For many, America is the only nation they have ever known. Yet, these individuals face deportation to countries they know nothing about, where the languages spoken are ones they may not understand. This is heartbreaking. It is also not in the national interest. By keeping talented young people from contributing to our economy, our broken immigration laws fail all of us.
To put a human face on the immigration reform debate, The Dream is Now highlights the stories of five Dreamers.
Take Alejandro, who dreamed of serving as a Marine since he was a little boy. Of the 11,000 Junior ROTC candidates in the City of Chicago, Alejandro as chosen as the top cadet. Our country needs Alejandro's service and he is ready. However, Alejandro, who is undocumented, doesn't have a social security number and therefore, cannot serve.
There is Ola, a top scholar searching for the cure for cancer as a student and researcher at the University of Michigan. Ola has worked incredibly hard and has excelled in her academic pursuits. However, when Ola's time as a student is over, she will either have to abandon her dream of healing others or depart the United States, taking her talents and capabilities to another nation.
Alejandro and Ola are extraordinary individuals but their stories are not unique. Millions of undocumented people are similarly situated to the cost of the nation. Billions of dollars in GDP as well as untold innovation and civic contribution are lost each year because of our failed immigration policies. The Dream is Now campaign endeavors to broaden support for common sense immigration reform so that Congress will finally act in 2013. The documentary, which premiered on MSNBC, will be screened in communities around the country in the coming weeks.
It is an exciting time for our nation, and the millions on the cusp of having an opportunity to earn citizenship in the United States of America - a country to which they badly wish to contribute. As a nation, we cannot sit back, complacent, because Congress has started to act. We must continue to share our stories - as well as the stories of Dreamers such as Ola and Alejandro - to build broad support for reform to ensure that millions are able contribute to the American family. It's time to call Congress to finish the job.
As the nation battles back from the worst recession in generations, we cannot squander the talents of Dreamers such as Ola and Alejandro. Comprehensive immigration reform is the right policy for the nation. We need to enlist the talents and energies of all Americans - documented and undocumented - in the hard work of re-building our economy to compete in the 21st century. Watch the film. Share it with your friends and family. Help them to understand why reform is in the nation's best interest. The time is right. The Dream is Now.
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