HS News Network
The DREAM ACT is Our Future
Our guest blogger Jaime Perez is a Lake Forest College Graduate with a degree in Biology and Studio Art. He lives in Chicago.
Protests and rallies outside Capitol Hill, a regular week in Washington D.C. These past couple of days though, have been particularly important in my short adult life. From the 19th to the 20th, hundreds of undocumented students and allies fled to our nation’s capital to push the Obama administration to pass the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill by this year. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) would provide certain undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.
Undocumented students, like myself, are coming out of the shadows and demonstrating that we are part of this country’s history, we need to be recognized for our academic merits, and that we can no longer wait for this legislation to remain in limbo. This was the reason why I decided to participate in this event. Many of us DREAMERS came here as children, having no recollection of our “home” land and we are taking risks in sharing our stories and “coming out” as undocumented, but we see this as the only way to show the rest of the U.S. that we are normal, high-achieving, Americans.
Although on the outside we appear to be woven into our nation’s fabric, we continue to feel like outsiders without this important 9-digit number.
As part of the three-day event, a mock graduation was held, to demonstrate the thousands of undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools and colleges every year. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois was among one of the speakers. Lobbying, and a rally around Capitol Hill was also organized as part of the three-day mobilization. All the events were well organized and thoughtful in demonstrating the need of this piece of legislation that dictates our future.
Moreover, 21 individuals risked their lives during the event because they were detained as part of a peaceful sit-in in senator offices as another push for support. I was humbled to be part of such a strong and brave group of students, activists, and leaders and it has motivated me to share my story as an undocumented immigrant and become more involved in this movement.
Without the DREAM Act, our futures are stagnant, since we cannot legally work in this country with the degrees we so passionately received from our universities. Although on the outside we appear to be woven into our nation’s fabric, we continue to feel like outsiders without this important 9-digit number.