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From Draft NOtices, January—March 2011

The DREAM is destroyed

—Rodrigo de la Rosa

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) was rejected by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 21, 2010. There has been a massive student movement in favor of this legislation that would allow undocumented students the possibility of acquiring citizenship. The sad reality of this bill is that it will only benefit a few, will work regressively regarding legalizing all of our undocumented youth, and will force more than half of the undocumented youth that qualify for this act to join the military.

The newest version of the DREAM Act that was drafted in 2010 gives undocumented people two options: either to pursue higher education for two years or join the military, which requires a total obligation of eight years. The DREAM Act does not guarantee that if the higher education path is chosen the undocumented person would pay in-state resident tuition rates; nor does it allow such individuals to receive any type of federal financial aid such as federal Pell grants, forcing students to take out loans and fall into debt. It is a bill designed to guide our youth into a path of disparity and death. The current DREAM Act would restrict undocumented youth even more than earlier versions. If it were to be implemented, the individual would not be able to attain health insurance, would have to disclose his or her information to the immigration authorities, would have to wait at least two years before he or she is granted any type of legal immigrant status, and would not be allowed to sponsor family members or anyone else for U.S. citizenship.

I had the opportunity to accompany some of the local dreamers, advocates of the DREAM Act, as they gathered in a church to await the final Senate decision about this bill. There was a variety of emotions in the room: sadness, hopefulness, and nervousness, just to name a few. You could see how much these dreamers — almost all students — desired the passage of this act. When the Senate voted it down, tears filled the church as they sat and reflected on what fighting for this bill meant for them. They were disappointed, sad and angered about the choice the Senate had taken.

My reaction was different. I felt relief that when this bill did not pass, disaster had been averted. This is because, like the dreamers, I know students who would have benefited from the DREAM Act, but I know many more people in my community who would have been left with only two choices: either staying undocumented or joining the military. The 67% who would not benefit from the DREAM Act could die trying to prove themselves worthy of obtaining a piece of paper from the U.S. government.

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This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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