The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

The Dream Act: What you need to know

By Dorali Moctezuma & Kelian Ortiz (Douglass High School)

Hispanic immigrants are dramatically changing the demographic and economic landscape of Tennessee. The Dream Act is bipartisan legislation (meaning, both Republicans and Democrats have agreed on it) that addresses the dilemma of young people who grew up in the United States and have graduated from high schools, but whose future is threatened by the current immigration laws. The purpose of the Dream Act is to help undocumented minors who meet certain requirements have an opportunity to go to college, attend the military and have a path to citizenship that they would not otherwise have.

Only certain Hispanic students qualify for the Dream Act. First, students must have entered the United States before turning 16 and have lived in the U.S. for five years. In addition, students must be attending high school or obtained a GED, or have been accepted into a college or university.

Students seeking to take advantage of the Dream Act should first hire a lawyer, who will complete the application and check that all requirements have been met by the applicant. This can be costly for many families, but additional documentation may be needed from school officials, for example, before the application can be processed.

The Dream Act could be considered beneficial for the country for several reasons. First, it will contribute to the U.S. military’s recruitment efforts.  Also, it can help to make the country more competitive in the global economy by adding important economic benefits.     Finally, it will allow immigration and border security experts to focus on those who pose a serious threat to national security while allowing minors an opportunity to get a social security card, driver’s license, and work permit while continuing to attend public school.  Some weaknesses of the Dream Act could include providing safe harbor, or protection, for any immigrant, including criminals, from being removed or deported if they simply submit an application. Another limitation is that since the Dream Act is not a law, it can be revoked by any future president that decides it is not in the country’s best interest.

Immigration is an important issue in today’s society. It is important that Hispanic students are aware of their rights and the options available to them regardless of their citizenship status. For more information click here.

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