The post below was written by Maureen Rohde, a member of the Nebraska Students for the Dream [...] It was a great experience and she really hit a home run with this one.
Going to college, becoming a teacher, a doctor or lawyer or, in some cases, even just finishing high school; these are the dreams of students, all students. As a senior about to graduate, I should be turning all of my attention to my own dream. But now it seems I can only do so with a heavy heart. I guess you would say my eyes have been opened. I was always taught that I lived in the land of opportunity, a place that no matter who you are, or where you came from you, could dare to dream the impossible dream; and through education and hard work, you could fulfill that dream. However, the reality is, that in the land of opportunity, there is a population of students who don’t even have the chance to dream due to their immigration status. These kids find themselves here through no decision that they have ever made. They can be found in schools around our state, participating in the same classes, competing in the same activities, and partaking in the same community functions as I do. Yet for these students, opportunity ceases at graduation.
I had the amazing opportunity of riding a charter bus from Kansas City, MO to Washington D.C. with a group of people who were more than dedicated to making their dreams not only heard but also to give others the chance to dream. Our goal was to raise awareness about the federal DREAM Act legislation. The DREAM act is a bill written in part by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. It was originally drafted in 2005 and its language would extend a path to citizenship for undocumented young people. The basic premise of the bill is to allow individuals who have lived in the United States for a period of six or more years, who have graduated from a US high school and have obtained a degree from a US college or university (either a two or four year degree) or have completed a minimum 2 years military service being honorably discharged, the ability to be granted citizenship assuming they have no criminal record.
The trip to our nation’s capital was as much of a life learning experience as any I have ever had. The different stories and situations of people who rode on the bus were ones filled with tears, pain, and disappointment, but amazingly still carrying a message of hope. We were united in our cause, brought together by the individual idea that one person can make a difference; parents in search of a better way for their children, students seeking opportunity, and people, with seemingly nothing to gain, fighting injustice. As the stories were told I couldn’t help but sympathize with their pain and suffering but at the same time be amazed at the fact that in so many other ways they were very much like me. I was embarrassed to discover that these kids worked harder than I do. Yet their future still remains a far bigger question mark than my own. I couldn’t help but think. Isn’t this the country that proclaims, “with liberty and justice for all?"
As we began marching through the streets of D.C., I was struck by the irony of rallying for the DREAM Act while crossing Martin Luther King Drive. It’s difficult not to draw a connection between the civil rights movement of the sixties and the struggle of undocumented students today. And just as history looks favorably upon those that were peacefully involved with the civil rights movement, I know one-day history textbooks will outline this movement in the same light.
If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that victory will come, but not without great effort and sacrifice. It’s more than just adding a Facebook page or talking about it with your friends at the neighborhood coffee shop. It involves changing people’s minds and getting them to say not just, “ya, your right”, but to saying, “ya, your right, and I am going to do something about it!” Just as I have discovered a passion for this movement, I hope to convince you that that DREAM Act is not only good for undocumented students; it is also good for America. The time to act is now. Si se puede! (Yes it can be done!)
You can check out Nebraska Students for the DREAM Act on Facebook.