Currently, undocumented students who illegally immigrated to the United States at a young age have no means by which to obtain legal status, despite the successes they may achieve in the academic realm.
After much debate in recent years, the Senate may soon vote on legislation that would provide undocumented youth with a route to citizenship.
If passed, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act would provide qualified undocumented youth with a six-year-long conditional path to citizenship upon the completion of two years of higher education or two years of military service.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada announced that the proposed DREAM Act will be amended to military legislation that is scheduled for vote on the Senate floor next week.
The Harvard community has been vocal in its support for the Act, which would provide amnesty for a number of its own.
At the ground level, support for the DREAM Act has arisen from a determined Harvard student body.
Harvard College Act on a Dream, a campus organization that engages students in ensuring equality for all immigrants, collected numerous testimonies of undocumented students in a packet that was sent to U.S. senators across the nation.
The group sponsored National Coming Out of the Shadows Day last March, during which students collected around the John Harvard statue to read their stories.
“I think the Harvard community has been incredibly responsive in the last few days,” wrote Act on a Dream Co-Director Melissa V. Perez ‘13 in an e-mail. “Harvard’s Office for Federal Relations has been extremely helpful in moving things forward, as has the President’s Office. It says a lot about their commitment to protecting the rights of undocumented students across the nation. We hope more universities will follow suit.”
According to Perez, the organization prides itself in its “professional approach” to advocating for immigration reform.
“While we understand the merits of a grassroots approach to mobilizing supporters, we feel that as Harvard students we are uniquely positioned to tap into a wealth of influential resources and contacts that can be used to the movement’s advantage,” Perez wrote.
“While this is a departure from the tactics of other DREAM activists, we’re already playing an important role in changing people’s minds about next week’s vote,” she added. “The stories of our peers remind lawmakers and the public that this is not a controversial issue, but instead, a commonsense solution to an injustice. We will continue to disseminate this package far and wide.”
Harvard has remained a consistent public proponent of the DREAM Act. In keeping with its support for the reforms, the University does not consider a student’s citizenship status in admissions decisions.
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