America, their classes, but cannot go to

America,
the land of the free and home of the brave. The land of opportunities, built on
immigrants. Today, the United States has an immigration problem that no one
seems to be able to gather a solution for. What steps can be taken in this
country towards a better America? It is a known fact that the United States was
built off of immigration. Although there is a large number of constituents in
America that are immigrants, many of them do not have the same amount of
rights. Unfortunately, immigrants are held
back in status because a one-word description, such as, illegal holds
them back from furthering their life dreams with a presented solution to the
problem would be to pass the DREAM Act. Many steps towards equality such as
affirmative action, the civil rights movement, and much more steps have been
implemented into society, but they continue to lack a balance between “white
rights” and “black rights”. There are people who live their life day in and day
out fearing deportation. Why? Because they are not legal residents of the
United States. What does that mean? Well,

“Each year, approximately 65,000
undocumented students graduate from high school, many at the top of their
classes, but cannot go to college, join the military, work, or otherwise pursue
their dreams.  They belong to the 1.5 generation—any (first generation)
immigrants brought to the United States at a young age who were largely raised
in this country and therefore share much in common with second-generation
Americans.  These students are culturally American, growing up here and often
having little attachment to their country of birth.  They tend to be
bicultural and fluent in English.  Many don’t even know that they are
undocumented immigrants until they apply for a driver’s license or college, and
then learn they lack Social Security numbers and other necessary legal
documents” (The DREAM Act np).

These immigrants might have a different skin
color and ethnical background, but there are not much different from the second-generation
Americans. These undocumented students are found to be in a difficult
situation. The difficult circumstance consists of them not belonging anywhere
but both in the US and in their birth place at the same time. These
undocumented teenagers have lived their whole lives in the Unites States but
are illegal here because their parents brought them to America in hopes of a
better future. Unfortunately, those kids are not allowed to further in their
studies, work, or vote unless they find an alternative. The one thing holding
back these teenagers from achieving their dreams is a single word, illegal. A hopeless future may sound a bit exaggerating to many of you but
really isn’t, simply because “federal law prohibits postsecondary benefits to
illegal aliens unless comparable benefits are given to all US citizens,”
therefore making it hard for undocumented children to find good jobs after high
school (Malkin, Michelle 1). The students have a
barrier which deprives them of being able to progress in their lives. A
solution for this dilemma is the, Development, Relief, and Education for Alien
Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act. This act would provide undocumented
students, who graduate from high school each year, a pathway to legal status (The
DREAM Act np). Now, one might ask, “Since when has the DREAM Act idea been
around?” Efforts to pass the DREAM Act have been
made since 2001. The DREAM Act passed the Senate in May 2006 as part of the
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, CIRA; however, Congress did not
pass CIRA. The DREAM Act was then incorporated into the 2007 Kennedy-Kyl
comprehensive immigration reform bill and attached to the FY2008 Department of
Defense Authorization Bill; however, it was not passed in either case. Then in
the fall of 2007 the DREAM Act was then introduced as a stand-alone bill, but
was similarly defeated (DREAM Act np). Though it failed to become a law, the
DREAM Act has drawn bipartisan support in each session of Congress since the
original introduction. “The DREAM Act has never passed Congress in a decade of
attempts” for many reasons but mainly because of the Mexican-American border (Malkin, Michelle1). Using the border as an excuse to not
pass the Act is “a prevalent tactic designed to delay taking a position on
immigration issues by the congress” (Fitz, Marshall 3). A 2010 version of the DREAM Act passed the
House of Representative and achieved a majority of votes through the Senate,
but falling just five votes short of achieving closure (Guzman np). With the
DREAM Act, approximately 700,000 illegal immigrant
children to work legally in the United States, we would “reduce the deficit by
$2.2 billion over the next 10 years” (Fitz, Marshall 1). the status given to
immigrant students after high school will not be given to them solely upon the
completion of high school. These undocumented students will have to also meet
other requirements, qualifying them for the status. It’s ironic how the act has
had a long process and requires a lot from a single immigrant, but still has not
yet been able to satisfy anyone.

Furthermore,
the current issue is towards young immigrants who are not able to fulfill their
roles in life, because they are illegal residents of the United States. The
teenagers live their life day to day being afraid of deportation, but not only
that, their parents might be deported as well. The DREAM Act is wonderful for
those who would like to further their education and expand on their role in
life without being held back by a simple status that was not even their fault.
For the many immigrants who hold an illegal status, through the DREAM Act, they’d
be given a conditional legal permanent resident’s status. Although one might
think, “Oh, these kids never earned it”, in fact they did and they will.
Previously mentioned are all of the requirements a young immigrant will need to
meet to be able to have the status permitting them to move ahead. But, not only
does the DREAM Act benefit illegal students, it will also improve the economy.

            To extrapolate, the DREAM Act requires students to
graduate high school, thus graduation rates will increase. It is estimated that
only between five and ten percent of undocumented high-school graduates go to
college—not because they don’t want to, but because they cannot afford it or because
some schools will not allow them to enroll (The Dream Act np). This new status will
permit students to further their education and go to college. After college,
students will be able to attain jobs offered, thus boosting the economy because
there will be more people able to sustain a family. “Additional tax revenues will be generated from both employees and
employers as employment opportunities and jobs become open…DREAM Act helps
economy and according to a recent study, students who are impacted by the act
can add trillions in taxable income to the economy” (apecsecadmin np). The United States has been
supporting families with low-income backgrounds. The majority of undocumented
students belong to families with low resources and very little- to no money.
Because many of the students’ families have received government aid it would
seem just for the students to pay the government back through an increase in
the economy. The most effective way for students to pay back the government
would be for they themselves to have a job and pay back the government through
tax money. “We present an analysis to
understand what would happen if the United States were to grant a pathway to
legal status to an estimated 2.1 million eligible youth in our country by
passing the DREAM Act. Overall, we find that the passage of the DREAM Act would
add $329 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030,
demonstrating the potential of the proposed law to boost economic growth and
improve our nation’s fiscal health” (Guzman np). Undocumented students living
in the United States do not solely live in one state. These illegal immigrants
inhabit all throughout the United States.

Moreover, the DREAM Act would not
only benefit dreamers into beholding a status that would allow for them to
expand on their life goals, but it would help out the US economy as a whole.
The quote exerted above supports the argument of how the economy would see an
increase overall. Although it is mentioned undocumented students are not evenly
spread through the U.S., even the state with few immigrants would see a huge
impact on its economy. What the congressmen that are
voting against the DREAM Act are failing to realize is that even though the Act
has never been approved, “we spend more than $17 billion each year on our
immigration enforcement agencies—a 70 percent increase over the last five
years. And just six months ago we added another $600 million in emergency
funding” (Fitz, Marshall 4). Not agreeing with the excuse of our borders aren’t secure
enough because with all that money they are spending, most people that know
about how much is being spent, would agree with anyone saying “our border is
more secure than ever” (Fitz, Marshall 3). As a requirement from the
undocumented student, it was previously mentioned that they would need to have
graduated from high school or earned an equivalent, such as a GED, or be
attending college (DREAM Act np). A student who graduates from high school makes
more money than a student who does not complete high school. Why would the
government prefer to have students who have not graduated from high school
working for them, rather than granting them the opportunity to legally work and
pay taxes for the government. Students who graduate high school are also more
likely to attend college and graduate from college than students who dropped
out of high school and did not complete it.

In addition to
a greater opportunity at making money, students will then be more likely to
afford college tuition. Because of the barriers in education
and their exclusion from the legal workforce, many undocumented students are
discouraged from applying to college. People are all interested in different
things, and for many of us school is not something that makes us feel
comfortable. Many of the undocumented students belong to families in which
their parents had a very limited educational background. Their parents are
probably working full-time each day, seven days a week for minimum wage at a
blue collar job. Unfortunately, those jobs are not easy and probably leave
parents tired and unable to spend time with their kids on a Friday night
because taking one day off of work would mean they’re already behind in making
the monthly rent payment for a home that might only have one bedroom and one
restroom for a family of five. The only way for the children to help their
mother or father, because many times it is a single parent running the
household, is to get a minimum wage job as well at the age of ten or continue
with their education in hopes of finding a job that pays better because the
student was able to earn a high school degree. Illegal immigrants are limited
to the number of opportunities they can pursue because they were not born in
the U.S. and they’re illegal residents of the United States. Completing high
school might be one of the few reasonable mediums of success an undocumented
student has.

In
addition to being granted a status that’ll permit students to work in the
United States, these students will have the opportunity to pay in state college
tuition, thus making college a little bit more affordable than before.
Currently, the preferred term for undocumented students is DACA, Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals (Johnson np). There are many states who are
taking steps towards helping DACA students. “In
total, 20
states or state university systems have enacted laws or policies
that allow eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. In
comparison, six states— Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and South
Carolina—have laws that bar undocumented students from in-state tuition
benefits” (Johnson np). It is amazing to see the number of states that are
making the efforts towards helping DACA students; but it is also unfortunate to
see the number of states who are not supporting DACA students, but rather
implementing laws prohibiting acts like the DREAM Act to pass. Hopefully
throughout the next few years there is an increase in the number of states who
support DACA students.

To conclude, American society has always had different
discrepancies towards all groups of people, of all color. One of the most
recent dilemmas of the 20th century has been towards undocumented
immigrants. Unfortunately, those immigrants are held back in status because a
one-word description, such as, illegal holds them back from
furthering their life dreams. A solution to the problem would be to pass the
DREAM Act. This act would allow for students to earn a legal permanent
residential status, work in the United States, boost the economy, and further
their education. This act would diminish the barriers posed to undocumented
students, and allow for them to live their dreams, because we all have a dream,
even Martin Luther King Jr. did.

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