Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Living the Dream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


More by this author
While the majority of students are worrying about getting into their dream schools and being able to afford them, others worry about a bigger issue. Students brought to this country illegally, who must leave a blank space on applications that ask for their Social Security number, know they will not be accepted regardless of their outstanding grades and extracurricular involvement. However, there may be some hope in the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).

Of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States (70 percent from Mexico), 2.7 million are children. These young people benefit from the U.S. school system, but only up through high school. Their education often stops there due to a 1996 federal law that prohibits states from offering
in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens.

The DREAM Act is a massive amnesty program for the millions of illegal immigrants (age 12 to 35) who entered the United States before they are 16. Those who apply for this amnesty can receive conditional, temporary resident status, which can be converted, once earned, to a nonconditional green card (permanent U.S. residency) after six years. These immigrants can then use their newly acquired status to seek green cards for their parents. In this way, it can also provide amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who brought their children to the United States.

“I don't necessarily live in fear of being deported,” says Juan, a high school junior who was born in Mexico. “For the most part, I live a normal life. Except, now everyone is getting their driver's license, and I can't.”

Juan came to the U.S. with his mother and older brother in 2000 when he was eight. He is just one of millions of students in the nation hoping for the DREAM Act to be passed. While he does not claim to have experienced any overt prejudice in high school, Juan still faces racial stereotypes.

“It bothers me when people joke around and ask me for my green card,” Juan explains. “I laugh, but deep down I know they are offending me for something I have no control over. I was born in Mexico, but my life is here.”

His older brother, who graduated a few years ago, now attends a community college and plans to transfer to a university. Juan hopes to take a similar path. “I have no doubt that I can go to college,” Juan says. “I know it's going to be hard, but as long as I stay in this country, I have a chance.”

The DREAM Act was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress last March by Senators Dick Durbin and Richard Lugar.

“I can only hope that the DREAM Act will pass,” Juan says. “All I want is a good life and a promising future, just like everyone else.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





Join the Discussion


This article has 64 comments. Post your own!

anja said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm:
I have to strenuously disagree with your characterization of the DREAM Act as a "massive amnesty". The DREAM act is simply the only just way to rectify the massive backlog and errors committed by our severely dysfunctional immigrations system. These students have broken no laws by choice, have grown up in America as Americans, and in many cases are star students and community members. Rather that portray DREAM act as a charity, it is fairer to say that they have more than earned their chance to ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Bad Bob said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 12:24 pm:
There is no moral imperative to allow people to come here illegally for their own economic benefit. If you want to help people of other countries improve their lot, there are ways to do that that don't require breaking US laws. If there is any moral imperative regarding illegal immigration, it is not advantage those who jumped the line over those who followed the rules to come here. How do you explain to someone who waited years to immigrate here legally that we look the other way while mil... (more »)
 
anja replied...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm :
The outrage is in the fact that you are seeking to scapegoat innocent victims. These kids did not choose to break any laws, and have grown up and been educated as Americans. They are following the values and mores of the only land they know, and seeking to improve themselves and contribute to this nation through education. The DREAM act is not an amnesty; it is a just and fair way to rectify the errors committed by our broken immigrations system.
 
mRNA replied...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm :
These kids were taken across the border before they had a say in the matter. Would you really punish a 6 year old for a crime that their parents committed? And since the dream act really only affects people who have been in the us for a a certain number of years, and are now attending college, in a way, these students have been waiting years as well.
Not to mention the fact that the students who would benefit from the dream act would presumably be bright intelligent people since they are ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback