The DREAM Act is proposed federal legislation to provide illegal immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools and meet other criteria, such as good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as children 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.
The workshop was hosted by the Chinese Students’ Association, cosponsored by Pi Delta Psi and the Korean American Students’ Association. CSA President and Senior Michael Chen was approached by the New York State Youth Leadership Council and told about this DREAM Act that they were trying to pass.
‘I really do hope they pass the DREAM Act soon,” Chen said. It really is a shame that several bright minded students that have successfully completed or trying to complete high school and college are having so much trouble in a country that is supposed to reward hard work.”
After considering that there are numerous clubs and organizations on our campus that have a great number of international students, CSA and the other cosponsors thought that this was an issue that certainly pertains to our student body and decided to pursue the workshop.
The workshop was, indeed, both greatly interactive and informative. Members of the three associations participated in a brief activity in which each was given an immigrant status.
The groups were each allowed to step forward or backward accordingly to the privileges that they received. This activity helped us visualize how significant the gaps between the statuses are.
We were also introduced to two short videos featuring the case of Stephanie, a ‘stateless” student from UCLA and other undocumented students. Looking at the faces that were blurred in the videos for confidential purpose, it hit me, as an international student, how likely the chance that one of my friends would be in the exact same fearful situation but could never share it with anyone is.
‘I thought [the workshop] was very interesting,” CSA Vice President and junior Frances Wang said. ‘It taught me a lot about what it means to be undocumented and how strict the law system is. It is sad because the people the DREAM Act affects are students of our age, who were brought here undocumented as children. It is against their choices yet they have to suffer the consequences. I thought there would be someway regardless of how hard it is, but apparently there is none.”
Later on, I did some research myself and came across a thought-provoking introduction on the DREAM Act main page:
‘Approximately 2.8 million students will graduate from US high schools this year. Some will go on to college; others will join the military or take another path in life. But they will get the opportunity to test their DREAMs and live their American story. However, a group of about 65,000 students a year will not have this opportunity because they bear the inherited title of undocumented immigrant. These highly motivated individuals have lived in the United States all their lives and want nothing more than to be recognized as American citizens.”
The Act was re-introduced on Mar. 26 and currently, there are 100 representatives and 52 senators who are co-sponsored the bill. However, it has not yet gained the support from our Representative from Rochester. I found myself hoping that my little signature on the petition card would become a part of a successful petition.
That evening, I walked in the workshop barely know anything about the DREAM Act and, in an attempt to recruit more people, certainly have embarrassed myself with my little knowledge.However, an hour later, I walked out of Dewey 1-101, feeling proud of myself for actually gaining some knowledge on a Friday night and an urge to share what I learned with others (and this time, hopefully, without any embarrassment tagging along).
Further information on the DREAM Act along with the videos mentioned above can be found on the DREAM Act Portal Web site: http://DREAMact.info.
Ngo is a member of the class of 2013.