Act Should Be More Than A Dream

I graduated from high school next to a young woman who had everything I had. We both wore a white sash signifying our role in the National Honor Society recognizing our academic success. We wore bronze medals honoring our participation in upper level classes. From both our caps swung the tassel of a high school graduate as we steadily walked down the isle of the stadium to the steady beats of Pomp and Circumstance.

But I had one thing that she didn’t have—a social security number. Nine digits that granted me access to unlimited higher education that she would struggle to achieve.

This week, the DREAM Act was passed by the Washington House and has been sent on to the Senate. This Act is a step in immigration reform for young people that needs to happen.

I grew up in Yakima, Washington—a place known for having a large migrant population because of the area’s emphasis on agriculture. I went to class with students that were undocumented. I became friends with hardworking people who were consistently under threat of deportation. My status as a citizen is an incredible privilege that many of my high school classmates were denied.

Under the DREAM Act, the children of undocumented immigrants would gain greater access to state financial aid for college and, ultimately, the job market—components of our lifestyle that we have deemed essential for societal inclusion. A sense of inclusion we are denying a large portion of our community.

I graduated with creative thinkers, smart innovators, and diligent workers. People who have lived here practically their whole lives. People who should not be defined by citizen status, but rather by the content of their character. People who deserve a chance to thrive in a nation they already call home.