DREAM Act on hold but not forgotten

By Angelica Jimenez–

Thousands of undocumented college students waited in vain on Tuesday to see whether a bill opening a door to citizenship would be heard.  The U.S. Senate voted 56-43 to defer debate on a defense appropriations bill which included the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

But advocates like Gaby Pecheco, a special contributor to CNN, are determined to continue their fight for young adults, brought to the United States undocumented by the family, to become U.S. citizens.  The Act, whose criteria requires applicants to be 35 or younger, have entered the U.S. before turning 16 and lived here at least five years, have no criminal record and earned a high school diploma , would allow Pecheco to realize her dream of enlisting in the Air Force.

Her family brought Pecheco to the United States from Ecuador in 1993 when she was seven-years old.  Pecheco earned her bachelor’s degree in special education, despite not being eligible for government financial aid because of her legal status.

The Act, originally introduced in 2001, has been a source of controversy especially over the past several months.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has strongly supported the Act.
Even Senator John McCain supported the bill previously but has pulled an about-face as the midterm elections approach.  There remains hope that the DREAM Act can pass if introduced stand alone bill, and not included with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” measure.

Let’s hope legislators realize that children brought here without any choice but want to contribute deserve the DREAM Act.

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