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 A 5th grade class in a multi-ethnic American school.

by Ken Yu

According to the Asian American Justice Center, “an estimated 1.4 million Asian Americans are undocumented, and many of them are students who have come to America as young children.”

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, is legislation introduced in the House and Senate. While there are differences between the bills, passage would give undocumented students a path to citizenship, independent of their parents status.  

The most recent version of the Dream Act requires that the applicant have come to the U.S. before 16, been here at least 5 years before the bill passes, graduated high school (or GED), be between 12 and 35, and have good moral character. If the relevant requirements are met, a 6 year conditional permanent residency is granted. They then must fulfill one of two conditions for two years: enroll in college or enlist in a branch of the United State military. At the end of 5 and a half of the 6 years, the applicant will be able to apply for legal permanent residency.

While the primary beneficiaries of the DREAM Act would be students whose parents brought them here as children, since it has been so many years since the bills were first introduced, the Senate bill raised the age from 25 to 35.

Although the popular media gives the impression the Act is for Latinos, there are many Asians who will benefit. Some were refugees from war torn countries like Laos and Vietnam, the latter often boat people not given political asylum. Some, like SB’s all American kid next door in the related article, from countries where the one-child policy and many of the freedoms we take for granted do not exist. 

Each year about 65,000 undocumented children who have lived here for five years or more will graduate from US high schools. Although American in every way but their passport, they are still no different than the parents who brought them. They can never get a legal job, get a driver’s license, vote. They eat, drink, think and breath American because that is all they know. They are innocent victims.

The DREAM Act says America is a compassionate country. It says, in Biblical fashion, ‘the sins of the father are not visited upon the children.’ It says that it’s not just in Hollywood movies that ‘dreams really do come true.’ And you can help make those dreams come true with a simple email, letter or phone call. Ask your Senators and Congressperson to vote for the DREAM Act. Remind them it was immigrants who built this country, immigrants who build it still, and these innocent immigrants deserve to be on paper what their hearts and minds already are—Americans. 

The All American Kid Next Door Who Lives in Fear:
   The Government Doesn't Think She's American Enough

DREAM Activist:
DREAM Act Portal:
Asian American Justice Center:

Note: The photo above of a 5th grade class in a multiethnic school is that of the 44th President of the United States.    


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