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Marielena Hincapié

Marielena Hincapié

Posted: December 17, 2010 05:16 PM

Let us DREAM

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Tomorrow, the Senate will have the same opportunity as the House did last week to fulfill thousands of American dreams, including their own.

The American people elected each senator with the faith that they would live up to the ideals of our forefathers, and make smart decisions to lead the country towards shared prosperity. Their vote on the DREAM Act will test that faith.

This is a defining moment for all senators, especially for Republicans who will show their true colors by how they vote on the DREAM Act, which paves a path toward U.S. citizenship for undocumented students brought here as young children if they attend college or serve in the military. Tomorrow will tell if they value the American dream, if they believe in a well-educated and competitive workforce, if they are truly striving for American prosperity, if they are indeed worthy of the office they hold. Saturday's vote will tell us if they have the courage to lead.

Our country is in crisis; we're trailing behind other nations and are not as competitive as we used to be. This is not the time to ignore the obvious. This is a time to take action. We need realistic solutions to create jobs, educate our youth, and reduce the national debt. The answer is simple: invest in the future of our country by letting the DREAMers, as undocumented students are called, fulfill their American dreams.

When the legislation comes to a vote tomorrow, the Senate will be faced with two choices: jump on the opportunity to steer the country toward shared prosperity, or send a clear message to immigrant communities that our contributions are not welcome here.

We have invested in DREAMers with a K-12 education, but stop them short of fully contributing to our society. Our own irrational laws restrict the return we can see on our investment. Not because DREAMers can't succeed, but because we won't allow thousands of homegrown achievers to use their U.S. educations, receive college educations, or enter tomorrow's workforce and be counted among the next generation of American taxpayers making the U.S. a global competitor to be reckoned with.

We can generate an estimated $2.2 billion in net revenues over 10 years by enacting the DREAM Act. People with college educations earn more than their high school-educated counterparts, and contribute more to our nation's economy. The DREAM Act gives DREAMers the chance to get a higher education, open businesses, create new jobs, and pay taxes.

This is why the Senate must pass into law the DREAM Act, because if they do, we as a nation stand to benefit from the significant contributions of these dedicated achievers, and they as elected voices will be fulfilling the American dream.

It is my hope -- and that of educators, faith leaders, the 1 million people who have called their senators, and thousands students who are holding their breath nationwide -- that they will make the smart decision, and pass the DREAM Act.

Saturday's vote on the DREAM Act will send a loud and clear message. The growing electorate will remember this vote when we go to the voting booths in 2012 and remember clearly which Members of Congress voted to fulfill our collective dreams of a better future. America deserves better. We can do better. Pass the DREAM Act!