The United States is often called the “land of opportunity.” With a strong emphasis on freedom and a firm belief in the American Dream, our country has attracted immigrants from all throughout the world, creating what some describe as “The Great American Melting Pot.” Nearly two and a half centuries after the birth of our nation, this nickname has become more of a stigma than a commendation. Controversy regarding immigration pervades our society more than it ever has in our lifetime.
One piece of legislation that has received particular scrutiny from the American people is the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a bill that would provide an easier path to citizenship for illegal immigrant students. Under the stipulations of the bill, undocumented minors who immigrated before the age of 16 would be able to earn citizenship if they complete two years of college or two years of the armed forces.
In early October, California Jerry Brown signed a California DREAM Act, allowing these undocumented students to also be eligible for receiving financial aid and scholarships from the state.
The DREAM acts have received much opposition from those who believe that people who immigrate illegally should not receive the same benefits as citizens. Most of the time, I do agree that people should not be rewarded for breaking the law. In this circumstance, however, I fully support the DREAM Acts.
Children who have no say in their method of immigration should not be punished for the actions of their parents. For instance, it is completely unfair that a child who was illegally brought to the United States without his consent at the age of two should be prohibited from obtaining the necessary means to pursue an education.
As a middle class citizen, I would probably not receive much, if any, financial aid from the state to attend a public university. Some would argue that, because of this fact, I would not want the money I could be receiving to go to someone coming from an undocumented family. On the contrary, if students work as hard as they can to do well in school and are not able to afford college, they should be able to receive appropriate aid regardless of citizenship.
Preventing undocumented immigrants from receiving necessary funds to attend college is going directly against the American Dream. We should be encouraging the education of undocumented youth so that they may contribute to our society as able citizens. These children did not ask for the fate they were given; they should not be punished for it either.