Massachusetts Daily Collegian

College should be more than a dream for all

By Collegian News Staff

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As a child, how much influence did you have over your parents’ decisions? If they decided to move to a new town, to find new jobs, to transfer you to another school, what degree of control did you have over the decision? Children can yell, kick and scream, but often with few favorable results. Children simply do not have the final say when it comes to making important life decisions affecting the entire family, especially when economic necessity is the compelling force.

Thus, many young adults whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as children are paying the price for decisions that they did not make.

Roughly 65,000 high school students who entered the country illegally are graduating per year. Many of them have been raised associating the U.S. as their home and are effectively barred from attending the college of their choice. Students without legal status are unable to receive federal aid of any sort and are only offered the opportunity to take advantage of in-state tuition in ten states – and Massachusetts is not one .

The Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, will hopefully clear a path to college for these students. If the DREAM Act is passed, it will nudge open the door for thousands of students previously denied the opportunity to receive a higher education.

The DREAM Act proposes to allow high school graduates who lack legal status a path to citizenship as long as they entered the country before the age of 16, have resided in the United States for at least five years prior to the bill’s passage, and do not have a criminal record. If they qualify, they will be able to receive conditional residency, which can become permanent legal status after the completion of two years of college or military service.

As immigration legislation goes, the DREAM Act should be relatively uncontroversial. Regardless of your stance on illegal immigration, the act does not give potential illegal immigrants an extra incentive to come to the United States, and is strict in its qualifications. It seeks to rectify a situation in which high school students are torn between seeking higher education in what has been their home for many years and being separated from friends, family and opportunity.

The DREAM Act comes up to vote this week, and its passage into law is not yet assured.

Please take the time to call or write to your senators and ask them to support the DREAM Act. Other young people have dreams, aspirations and goals just like you. Support them and call 1-888-254-5087 for the switchboard. Ask to be transferred to Senator Scott Brown’s office if you are from Massachusetts or your senator if you are from a different state. Sending letters is another powerful way to let your representatives know how you feel.

The demands of students is what put this legislation on the table, and hopefully it will be what carries it into law.

Adam Leader-Smith is a UMass student.

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