Some people can picture what the future might hold for them. Not me. Back in high school I saw my future very clearly. I was going to major with a bachelor of science degree in Education, pursue my Master’s degree and give back to my community, and of course give back to my parents for their sacrifices.
That picture does not exist anymore for me. I am stuck, but I am a DREAMer. This is a term given to certain undocumented students eligible for the DREAM Act. Developmental, Relief and Education for Alien Minors DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a proposed bill that offers a path to citizenship and opportunity for higher education for talented young DREAMers.
The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001, and more recently reintroduced last May. DREAMers or DREAM Act-eligible students are students that meet the strict criteria for the bill.
In December 2010 the bill was also introduced. This time the bill passed the House strict criteria of Representatives but failed there by only a few votes in the Senate. The 2010 failure left DREAMers heartbroken. The DREAM Act would give them the right to full access to higher education and possible citizenship if the bill is passed.
The name of this bill is similar to the name of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech called “I have a dream.” Some people draw parallels between those days to recent ones.
Teresa Puente wrote an article for www.chicagonow.com, about how she believes Martin Luther King Jr. would feel about the DREAM Act and cites his words: “Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
I don’t want to feel like an “outsider,” or outcast, but I have felt this way my whole life. Out-casted from my community, from military services, from universities, from financial aid and from most scholarships. Most importantly I have been casted out from dreaming.
I used to believe that everything would work out for me and my education. I did not want to think about myself as undocumented. In fact, I consider myself an American, only with the title “undocumented” attached to it.
I cannot picture my future because I really do not have one. I cannot complete a degree because of the background checks I can not complete. But after my hard work as an undergraduate student and my parents’ sacrifices and efforts, I am left with a simple question: Is it all worth it or am I wasting money and time?
The other night a caucasian family friend came to visit my mom. I thought he wasn’t aware of my status, but that night he addressed me and said, “I’ve heard that you have been upset about school.” I did not know what he was talking about but I understood when he said “I know you won’t be able to complete your teaching degree.” At that moment my chest began to burn, my heart sped up and tears came to my eyes. I was not able to hold the tears back and I couldn’t talk. I was stuck, frozen. He touched an opened wound. That night it really caught up with me completely. I consider myself an American, but sadly the title undocumented is attached. It hurts to be undocumented, I spend half of my time hiding my true identity. No one outside my family knows about my doomed future, but anyone that knows that I am a DREAMer thinks that I will graduate with my degree in the spring of 2013. Being undocumented hurts, but I find refuge in the word DREAMer.
Being a DREAMER means that I won’t sit around waiting for laws to change, it means that I will fight for my rights as an undocumented student. Because just as Martin Luther said, “Freedom must be demanded by the oppressed.” I will fight alongside other DREAMers for the DREAM Act.
I do not think that it is a coincidence that my birthday is the same week as Martin Luther King Jr. day. To me this holiday marks my birthday with a big “DARE TO DREAM” sign. As the DREAMer that I am, I do dare to dream just as Martin Luther King Jr. did.
As a DREAMer I would like to dream. I dream that one day I will be able to look into a clear future. I dream that someday I will have true control of my life. I dream that someday I will have access to a complete education. I dream of the day when I won’t be an outcast. I dream that sometime in the future I would be able to complete my background check. I dream that I will be fully recognized as what I am, an American, but without the “undocumented” word attached. I dream of a better future for my community undocumented or not, for my fellow DREAMers and for my country because like Martin Luther King Jr. I dare to DREAM.
The author of this article chose to remove their name for privacy reasons.