As the Obama administration and Congress look toward reforming immigration law to deal with the estimated 12 million people living in the United States without proper documentation, there’s one fix that warrants immediate attention: the DREAM Act.
This proposed law, which has failed in Congress year after year, would give
high-achieving children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to stay in
this country and go on to military service or college, paying in-state tuition
and able to qualify for scholarships and other financial aid. It would provide a
path to legal residency for young people who had no say where they should be
Many of them don’t speak their native language well or write it correctly,
yet U.S. immigration policy now requires that they be deported. Some of these
students arrived so young that they do not know they are undocumented until they
apply for college and are asked to submit verification of their immigration
On Tuesday, about 500 such students from across the nation went to Washington
to take part in a symbolic graduation ceremony to urge Congress to support the
DREAM Act. A rally the same day at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus stressed
the importance of tapping into the creativity of America’s next generation.
Faith leaders, business organizations, labor unions and civil- and
immigrant-rights groups have come together to push for this sensible change in
The case of Juan and Alex Gomez, students in South Florida whose Colombian
parents were deported a couple years ago, stands out as an example of why the
DREAM Act is needed. Juan is now studying at Georgetown on scholarship and Alex
is studying and working in South Florida, thanks to a special temporary law that
Congress passed to keep them in the country.
There are an estimated 65,000 such high-achieving students each year who hit
a wall once they graduate from high school and find they can’t go to college
unless they are admitted as ”foreign” students, paying exorbitantly high
tuition. About 5,000 are in Florida.
One of those students is Walter Lara, whose family moved to Miami from
Argentina when he was 3 years old. He graduated from MDC Honors College with a
computer animation degree in 2007. Now he’s to be deported July 6.
It’s maddening that U.S. immigration laws would punish the most talented. The
president and Congress should not wait to overhaul immigration laws and take
action on the DREAM Act. It’s a fix that can be accomplished now — and long
overdue. (The Miami Herald)