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

May 7, 2009
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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.

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This article has 64 comments. Post your own now!

McCloskey said...
Oct. 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm
This is a great article. Students who have worked all their life for a good education should be able to get help for college.
cehmer said...
Oct. 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm
I beleive the DREAM Act would be a good thing.
jdavis said...
Oct. 5, 2011 at 8:56 am
I beleive there should be a system for illegal immigrants to become citizens of the U.S. Although their activity was illegal at the time, most did not have a choice in the decision at their age.   They did what any child would do. . . listen ot their parents!  I beleive the DREAM Act if passes would be a good piece of legislature in order for them to become citizens.
lzcelloplayer said...
Sept. 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

This is a good article, and I very much agree with the DREAM Act. I think that everybody should have a chance at their dreams, no matter where they come from. 

Once again, great article! :D

Bambi67 said...
Aug. 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm
I love this article and it is very sad to read some intolerant people discriminated this people for some papers and I don’t believe the immigrants take any jobs from Americans’ and if the Americans’ let the illegal take jobs from them it is because they don’t to be cleaning bathrooms, don’t judge unless you really know what is going on this  people head, unless you know what this people have going through to come to America and think all their problems will be ... (more »)
TheEternalDBSK said...
Jul. 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm
People should keep in mind, WHY people come to America. People come to America for oppurtunity. America is known as "The Land of Oppurtunity".  It's exteremely hard to get into America if you come from a third world country, as most immigrants do. Did you know, the education, however more advanced in such a country is considered worthless in America because the education is that of a third world country? It's so hard to get into America even with a degree, and then apply for citizenship, im... (more »)
stayingold This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm
That was an awesome peice, very well written. You bring up good points and things from a different perspective. "If they are illegal they are illegal." BS. Everybody deserves a chance to be successful, despite where they come from.
Emmy88 said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I don't agree with the bible part, but the DREAM act is just another way for Aliens to get benefits that Americans work at too. 


Emmy88 said...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm
They're illegal and shouldn't have rights. It's the children's fault. They'll grow up and take jobs away from legals!
Bambi67 replied...
Aug. 1, 2011 at 1:12 pm
yea what kind of jobs? where will they work without a social ? if you got to dominican republic should they treat you like your a shadow just becuase you don't speak the language? or should treat you with racism just because your white? or should they treat like any human being in this planet? idk you tell me
Emmy88 replied...
Aug. 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm
can you explain to me why the alien can't just go though the citizenship process? Or at least learn better english? Or learn English at ALL? And with the economic situation in America right now, anyone will take any job they need. So, when the alien serves you your dinner at the diner, and your dad is out of a job, good luck!
smalltownshorty said...
Nov. 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm
If they are illegal they are illegal. So no they shouldn't get the benifits unless they go through the citizenship process.
CgWillis replied...
Dec. 28, 2010 at 11:03 am
Thank you! I agree completely.  I'm sick and tired of hearing people try and give these illegals the rights that legals have. 
zeeshan.makhani replied...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm
I believe many people here are just angry because "AMERICANS" barley have jobs left for themselves. Because many bright "illegal" imigrants are taking their jobs.
zeeshan.makhani replied...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Also realize if someone gains legal status they will pay taxes after getting a paycheck. If average pay is about 20,000 a year than one person pays about 1600 dollars in taxes every year. That is about 17 billion dollars extra the contry makes of taxes if all 11 million people work. Plus doesn't America owe 17 trillion dollars to China? Maybe these extra money on  taxes can help. LOL
smalltownshorty replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm
It wouldn't make a dent, and even if it was enough money to make a dent in the amount, it is unlikely any of it would be paid back to China.
RiverSong replied...
Jun. 22, 2011 at 11:00 am
"If they are illegal they are illegal", you say--but what about the children (which is what this article is all about)?  How is it their fault?
smalltownshorty replied...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm
I am not saying it is anyones fault but I am a strong believer in going things the legal way. I think everyone should be able to live and go to school where ever they want. I myself plan on leaving America for london for my own personal school. But at the same time, as it is you have to pay differnt prices for schooling depending on where you were born and raised. It will cost me about 15,000 dollars more than it would a citizen of england to go to the college I want to but I'm fine that. Becaus... (more »)
RiverSong replied...
Jun. 24, 2011 at 7:14 am

You make a good point.  But you say they should not receive any government help?  I disagree with that.  If illegal immigrants received enough government help to ensure that their lives were settled for a while, they could concentrate on getting citizenship and becoming legal members of the US, which would allow their children to go to college and benefit society in general.

I do believe that legal immigration is, of course, the best and hopefully, one day, only opt... (more »)

poetry_addict said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm
I agree but what about the say six year old who is up against a illegal for college. THey have the same education same outstanding recommendations same straight As. Who would be picked? THe american. THis is the way it should be. For while these children were smuggled. A child pays for the sins of there fathers. THe bible itself says that. A parent should think of these things an should legalize both themselves an there children.
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