Dream Act or No: I Will Still Dream On
By Adrian Ramirez
Ever since the first Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act was introduced in the U.S Senate on August 1, 2001, my hopes have been taken on a rollercoaster ride to new lows and highs—and the journey has left me very pessimistic. I don’t believe that any true change that will come to immigration policy in the U.S., even now that the House has passed the DREAM Act.
I am in the same boat as millions of undocumented immigrants who call America home. I was brought here by my parents at the age of five in search of the American dream.
In 2002, I graduated from high school in San Jose, Calif., where I have survived as an undocumented American for more than 20 years. I went to community college to obtain my A.A. degree in graphic design. It was while doing this that the DREAM Act was most important to me. It seemed like a way to become a legal citizen, and my hopes hit a high. I knew I would meet all the requirements to be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship if the DREAM Act passed.
It made me want to work that much harder, and in no time, I finished my degree. The DREAM Act still had not passed, but promises of its passage were in the air. “Did you hear, they are going to pass the DREAM Act this year for sure!” my friends would tell me. And, of course, it didn’t. Its passage was always promised, and its delay was always assured.
Why would I think that 2010 would be any different?
The way I look at it now, I don’t need the DREAM Act to live my American dream. I have been living that dream for quite some time now. I am a husband to a wonderful U.S. born wife; I am an artist, a small business owner, a taxpayer, a community member as well as a dreamer. My dream has not been completely fulfilled, but I am not going to sit on my hands and wait for the rest to come to me. If the DREAM Act passes the Senate—which seems highly unlikely—it would better my chances of achieving my highest potential. But the DREAM Act is not the only option.
As immigrants, we have been prepared for struggle and obstacles. So what is one more dream deferred?
Even if the Act did become law, I am almost certain that undocumented people who don’t qualify as DREAMers would have to pay the price for it. The ones who receive legal status will watch the rest who didn’t face deportation.
So I ask myself this question: Would I want to be legal in this country if it means that my mother has to go back to Mexico? Would she make that great sacrifice to see my future brighten as an American? Sadly, I know she would, and her willingness makes me want to fight so that true, sensible, comprehensive immigration reform is passed for all, not just the chosen few that the DREAM Act would allow.
If you truly want to be a part of this country, you will be. No piece of paper, no Senate or House needs to tell me that I belong. I will continue to enrich this country with what I have to offer; I will not give up on it, even though its people sometimes give up on me. I will always be a dreamer, no matter what.
Originally appeared in New America Media.