|

Ponnada: Dare to DREAM

BY SRI PONNADA | FEBRUARY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

An estimated 5.5 million children and adolescents in the United States are growing up in the shadows with parents unauthorized to be in the country, according to 2010 data from the Pew Hispanic Center. Although 4.5 million of the children are U.S. citizens because they were born here, 1 million were brought here illegally.

Many of these “illegal immigrants” live in constant fear of being deported, but they face the odds because they want to be here and build a life here, in America. They have a dream.

President Obama announced last year that his administration would grant deferred action to those qualified by the DREAM Act legislation.

Deferred action may not make the young DREAMers “American” per se, but it does give them a break from worrying about deportation, access to a Social Security number, and, often, driver’s licenses.

Ricardo Lopez, a member of the Latino-based fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta at the University of Iowa, has seen firsthand the effects that an undocumented status can have on someone.

“I have a friend,” Lopez said. “I grew up with him back in Chicago. He came here when he was 5 years old.”

He said his friend is going to community college because he can’t afford to go to a university.
“He’s paying it out of pocket, and he goes to work.” Lopez said. “Whatever work he gets, he uses it for tuition and books.”

People like Lopez’s friend grew up alongside American citizens with the same values. But in society, they are not given the same value or opportunities. This applies to legal immigrants as well.

However, there has been a lot of opposition to the president’s order as of late. DREAMers are not seen as worthy of receiving benefits such as driver’s licenses, which are conversely thrust upon every American. In fact, four states have ignored the executive order — Iowa was one of those states until just a few weeks ago.

Thankfully, the Iowa Department of Transportation changed its stance in January and started issuing driver’s licenses and state IDs to young immigrants granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status.

What’s even more exciting is that Democrats in the Iowa Senate are pushing for DREAMers to be eligible for in-state tuition at public universities, noting that they went to high school in Iowa and graduated from high school or received an equivalent diploma.

Not giving these kids a path to go to college is a bad economic move — luckily, one that some Iowa lawmakers are trying to correct. After all, a huge investment has been made by the state in their elementary and high-school education. But the focus should not be on the investment that America has made in DREAMers. It should be on the faith that they have in America.

Let’s look at our neighbors to our nation’s southern border.

According to a 2012 survey of Mexican adults conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, more than half said they believed that Mexicans who move to the U.S. have a better life there. Thirty-eight percent of Mexican adults said they would move to the U.S. if they had the means or opportunity to do so.

A nationwide survey of Latino immigrants by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 93 percent who have not yet naturalized said they would if they could. Unfortunately, barriers such as a lack of English proficiency and the financial cost of naturalization prevent many legal immigrants from doing so.

What many people in America fail to see is that these “aliens” and “illegal immigrants” would give anything not to just be here, but to be seen as they see themselves, as Americans. Then why is it that we continue to crush their hopes and dreams?


In today's issue:





 
Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.