Each year, thousands of children are brought to the United States by undocumented immigrant parents and can go through regular public schooling without ever acquiring legal residency. Even if they have never known another country, they are at constant risk of being deported to their birth countries as they grow up.
A proposal for a law that would allow undocumented students to become legal residents, the DREAM Act, has so far been rejected by U.S. legislators in 2007 (similar bills were also rejected in 2001 and 2006). At least 65,000 undocumented students would benefit from its passage.
Days before President Barack Obama was inaugurated, more than 655,000 people participated in an online vote about which issues American activist website Change.org should focus on in 2009. Thanks to campaigning from DreamACTivist.org and other online immigrant activists, passing this law was selected as one of the top 10 priorities.
A post-graduate student and DREAMActivist in California named Prerna, describes her personal blog as, “part of a growing network of pro-migrant voices online that seek to counter the hatred and ignorance spewed by hate groups and promote meaningful immigration reform.” It's called No Borders and Binaries.
On DesiCritics, Prerna has also written about her struggle to stay in the United States. Because she is 24, she cannot claim legal U.S. residency even though her entire family has legal status. Her only “option” is to get married.
She raises other personal issues:
“Fiji: The country where I was born tells me that I am a colonizer, that I don't belong there.
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: The countries of my ancestry predetermine me as a criminal even though I have never stepped foot anywhere in the Indian subcontinent.
The United States of America: The country where I have spent close to a decade, continues to demand a Green Card and a nine-digit number in order to accept me, regardless of the fact that the rest of my family comprises tax-paying citizens and legal permanent residents.”
Another blogger, “Somfolnalco”, a Mexican immigrant who received a university degree in 2007, questions what exactly being “illegal” means in his blog, Documenting Me.
“I would like to take this time to clarify something.
I (insert my name here) am NOT prohibited by law.
So why does this inaccurate label refuse to detach itself from me? Well because it makes things easier.
By labeling me as “illegal” I am suddenly robbed of the ability to be identified as a part of society. I am robbed of my humanity. Which in turn makes it easier for others to deny me of rights, to deny me of an identity, in essence to deny me of my being.”
Blogger Marip0sa, who is also “undocumented” explores the similarities and differences between her and “documented” Americans.
Many other voices can be found blogging across the country, including: Maria M. from Pennsylvania blogs about what the DREAM Act means on Give These Kids a Chance; “El Random Hero” living in California writes about the “Green Card Marriage,” on his blog, American Wetback; and, Alexander Spero writes about his experiences on his blog, Dreaming to Live.
The controversy from the DREAM Act is also present on YouTube, where students at the University of California in Los Angeles tell their stories in the video below. The same video was shown in a congressional hearing in May 2007.
In July 2007, students in California also posted numerous videos from a week long fast to campaign for the DREAM Act.
Is the DREAM Act fair?
For blogger Maegan la Mala of VivirLatino, the issue is personal because it affects her friends.
“I have friends who are finishing their college education pero can't find jobs because they don't have papers. I know students who are graduating high school but worry about college as an option because they don't have papers. While generally I am wary of promoting that a certain class of immigrant should be “legalized” over another, because I feel it promotes the classist ideal that only “educated” immigrants should have access to a status out of the shadows, the DREAM Act is worthwhile because it is a step in helping a younger generation of immigrants move forward and don't we all deserve the access to make ourselves better? Isn't that what that whole “American Dream” talk is about.”
Mala adds that another problem with the proposed legislation is the requirement of beneficiaries to enlist in the military.
Although the DREAM Act has a number of supporters who are immigrants, one commentator on Latina Lista, latnszzl, writes that the DREAM Act would be a “burden” despite the fact that she is also from an immigrant family.
“I am for giving people opportunities, but what I have a problem with when immigrants come here and want more education, is that the tax dollars necessary for that education are shrinking in these tough times.
Further, do Americans have the same opportunities in the countries mentioned by the applicants who want to stay? I think not. There is a double standard, that excludes foreigners from attending their institutions (not that I would want to).”