Editorial: DREAMs for a better future

[Andrae Reid]

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act, was introduced to Congress in 2001. It was later reintroduced in 2009 by Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Richard Durbin. The proposal is meant to help youths—who through no fault of their own are illegal— create a pathway to citizenship and be allowed to continue their education and find legal employment. This is a chance for many undocumented students to fulfill dreams of a better future; we should be pushing Congress to get this bill passed.

There are specific requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible under the DREAM Act. Applicants would have to have entered the United States prior to their 16th birthday; been in the United States for at least five consecutive years prior to the bill passing; have graduated high school, obtained a GED or be enrolled in college, a trade school or another type of institution of higher learning; no older than 30 at the time they are applying; and have good moral standing with no criminal convictions. They can also apply if they have two years of military service under their name.

As of today, the DREAM Act has yet to be passed. President Obama and his administration are making their way to this point and have already issued an executive order allowing deferred action. This offers safety from deportation for two years and youths can also apply for a work permit, which then allows them to apply for a Social Security number.

Anyone interested in applying for this deferred action must sign up online. Forms are expected to be posted on the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website. Be aware though, that this is NOT the DREAM Act and does not grant citizenship, it simply offers safety from deportation.

America is the land of the free. These young people, who have lived in the United States since they were very young, who have followed the rules and done well in school and in our country should be granted the opportunity to someday become American citizens. Congress should again take up debate on the federal DREAM Act.

We call upon our representatives in Washington D.C. to do the right thing and to pass this bipartisan piece of legislation.