Imagine living out the rest of your life, at the tender age of 17 or 18, being labeled a criminal for a crime you did not commit. Imagine having your dreams of academic success shattered by a nation vowing to protect freedom and the most basic of human rights… all because of a simple nine-digit number. How can the richest nation in the world make education inaccessible to children brought here by their parents? Sounds contradictory – maybe even a bit ironic – but this shows our current immigration policies.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would allow for thousands of young adults to attend college, enlist in the military and eventually gain legal residency, failed this past Wednesday. While most of us UCSB students made plans for the excesses and debauchery that is Halloween, the plans for these vulnerable young adults remain the same: impossible and dim. This legislation would allow for high school graduates to pay resident tuition fees, making the financial aspect of college possible. Most importantly, it would provide these bright individuals the legal right to practice their earned degree in their professions, thus repaying society.
The act radiated with the potential to become one feasible step toward reasonable immigration reform. It had the potential to systematically grant legal residency to individuals through something as beautiful and inspiring as education.
Bill supporters needed 60 votes for the act to pass, however the result was 52-44. The measure died on the floor of Congress; however, the fire burning in the hearts of activists proved inextinguishable.
At our campus, we have a multiplicity of events and groups concerned with the issue of accessible education for immigrant students. One particular group, Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success, screened a documentary at Girvetz Hall in an effort to bring attention to the lives of immigrant students and the current state of the movement. Forthcoming events, panels and a creative slam poetry event will be crafted for the near future.
The American dream is deeply embedded within our culture and lifestyles, and we often take it for granted. We fail to realize the privileges that trickled down from our parents unto us as a result of their migration. The fact remains that very few of us are natives. The American dream needs to be renewed and reborn every now and then.