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Opinion | The 'DREAM Act' negates real, legal American Dream

By Katie Caprez
On February 1, 2013

There are few people in the United States who think educating a child is a bad thing. There are few who would admit to begrudging a child who performs exceptionally well in school the chance to pursue further education. Respectively, this basic tenant and accepted attitude are the bases upon which those who support "The Dream Act" have built their arguments.

The Dream Act is a legislative proposal, which would allow immigrants under the age of 35 who have come to the U.S. illegally to apply for legal status and citizenship. Only those immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 can apply for legal status under the law, but they can then proceed to apply for legal status for their illegal resident family members. As it stands today the DREAM Act umbrella covers persons with criminal records including D.U.I.s or known criminal involvement and does not seek to prosecute those persons (parents or others) who brought children illegally across U.S. borders.

This change in U.S. law has been debated since the beginning of this century among national legislators, inspiring conflict, partisan mudslinging and arguments of immorality from both sides of the aisle. Understandably, supporters of the act often accuse those who oppose it of being unsympathetic to the plight of young, intelligent people with ambition in their hearts. The emotional appeals to would-be supporters often include accounts of young undocumented persons rising to the top of their high school graduating classes and then not being granted in-state tuition rates (or sometimes admission) at public colleges.

Unfortunately, many who argue for or against The DREAM Act have ignored the plight that legal residents of this country have endured to immigrate.

Both of my grandparents were born and raised in Italy, emigrating from northern and southern Italy, respectively, in their early twenties. Each of their families encouraged them to leave their economically unstable hometowns in pursuit of a better life in the United States. Some might say that they dreamed the American dream. After saving money for passage, my grandmother traveled all alone, leaving the safety of her tiny town for Virginia. Meanwhile, my grandfather was hired as a manual laborer in Venezuela where he continued to scrimp and save, dreaming of one day reaching his final destination in the U.S.

I could go on with the emotional story of my Nonna and Nonno's first meeting on New Years' Eve at the Italian club in Akron, Ohio, the beauty of their eight grandchildren, or the details of their upcoming 50th anniversary party, but those are not the facts that are important here.

The most important thing to remember when evaluating the appropriateness of this piece of legislation is the message that we are sending to the rest of the world and to our children-and the children who will immigrate here from now on-about what the American Dream is really about.

The American Dream is about working hard, playing fair and reaching your goal in an ethical and legal way that Americans around you can be proud of. It is about making a better life for yourself and your posterity by virtue of your own sweat and tears. In making a decision about this bill, legislators have not only the future of this country's legal system in their hands, but our moral codes as well.

It would not do to disrespect the hard work that so many millions of Americans have done to earn passage into this great country in order to placate a political agenda. In passing this law, we say to parents all over the world that the proper channels of immigrating mean absolutely nothing to us and that if they manage to bypass them, we will grant their children and eventually them full access to everything that Americans have worked hard to build over our more than two hundred year history.

The laws of these United States have been built and fortified for a reason, and it would be a slap in the face those who have taken legitimate avenues to citizenship to pass this so-called "DREAM Act."


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