By: James Porter*
When you sit down to the dinner table this Thanksgiving, what will you say you are thankful for? Friends? Family? Health? Something that may slip your mind though is being thankful for your U.S. citizenship. For almost 2 million young people in this country, this is not something they have ever been given the chance to be thankful for. They were brought to the U.S. as children and many do not know a life outside the U.S. Imagine growing up, going to school, graduating from high school, and only then finding out you are not a U.S. Citizen. This sad reality is why when given the opportunity next week, Congress must pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
The legislation would provide a chance for young undocumented high school graduates who entered the United States before they turned 16 to gain lawful immigration status. Passage of the bill would mean eligibility for student loans, federal work-study programs, and other services. It would provide incentive for the approximately 65,000 undocumented graduates each year to continue their schooling and improve their job prospects.
Bishop John Wester, former chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration called young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act “talented, intelligent, and dedicated young persons who know only the United States as their home.” He went on to say that “They can become some of the future leaders of our country, provided we are wise enough to provide them the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
So as you give thanks for all of the blessings in your life this Thanksgiving, remember those who are still waiting, hoping, dreaming – that one day they too will be able to stand up and say they are truly thankful for being an American citizen. Thanksgiving was born out of a celebration of the diversity of this country. Let’s continue to celebrate.
Learn more about the DREAM Act and what you can do to support it by visiting the Justice for Immigrants website at: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/learn-issues.shtml. The Justice for Immigrants campaign also urges you to send a message to Congress asking them to pass the DREAM Act. To do so click here: http://www.capwiz.com/justiceforimmigrants/issues/alert/?alertid=16975576&type=CO
*James Porter is the Communications Officer for CLINIC