Last summer I worked for a Hispanic newswire where I became quite familiar with the DREAM Act and the problems facing young undocumented immigrants in the United States. I have heard illegal students tell their stories of growing up in America and fighting for a chance to pursue an education here. Immigration was arguably the most important issue I covered for readers and overall I learned one thing. I learned there is a difference between ideals and actual solutions. Illegal immigration is just that: illegal. The ideal would be that anyone who wanted to enter the country would go about it legally, applying for visas or green cards and waiting his or her turn. But the ideal is not the reality. Many people south of the border have come the U.S. in search of a better life, but have done so illegally due to their living conditions in their home country or a lack of financial resources. The reality is there are millions of undocumented immigrants in this country, many of whom came here as children and had no part in making the decision to commit a crime. These students call themselves Americans and they are the real victims.
This Friday the Obama administration announced it would grant work permits to students who meet the qualifications of the DREAM Act. For students to defer deployment, he or she must have entered the U.S. before age 16, either served in the armed forces or graduated from high school and not have a criminal record. This is a step in the right direction. These are students who want nothing more than an education and a chance to be a contributing citizen in society. Education, despite its costs, is indispensable, and, in my opinion, a right everyone has, regardless of citizen status.
The president made a decision that could have reasonable solutions to students facing deportation. This decision comes during election time and is three years too late, but it also comes at a time where it is evident Congress is unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform. In all honesty, what are the alternatives? Sure we can have police officers scouring the streets of our nation for every illegal immigrant, or anyone who looks Hispanic (like in Arizona), and we can kick them out in droves. I feel like this would be the ideal immigration reform for many in Congress today, but this is not realistic or humane. We are dealing with human beings and tearing apart law-abiding families just isn't right. Limiting deportation efforts to criminals in our country is a much better use of resources. Who really wins when an 18-year-old high school student who has grown up here is deported to a country he or she never knew? Is the United States a better, safer place? No. Just as there are victimless crimes, there can be justice without victors.
Like many others in this country, I have had to fight for my education. From working two jobs as a full-time student to taking on student loan debt, education hasn't been an easy thing. It is a struggle, but a struggle that is worthwhile. I know when I graduate I will be an American who can use my skill set to contribute to society and support myself. It doesn't make sense to me to deport students who are trying to do the same thing. These are students who have grown up in America, who have received an American education and who want to attend American colleges. These are hard-workers and bright minds. I would argue deporting them would actually be a detriment to the country. These students, given opportunity, could excel and go on to be the next generation of doctors, scientists and lawmakers. Logically, why would we send them to a different country? Let's keep them here.
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