Editorial: Listen to Student Senate and support DREAM Act

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

The DREAM Act and its supporters have caused a stir in the melting pot, and it’s time for Baylor to get cooking, too. Student Senate asked the university to take a public stance supporting the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act with a bill passed March 8, and it is indeed time for the university to do so.

The DREAM Act would allow children brought to the U.S. as illegal immigrants to become citizens if they go to college or become part of the military, along with meeting other requirements.

Universities such as Purdue, Duke and Rutgers (among many others) began expressing their support for the act back in 2010, and with good reason.

Many recognize that the talent and skills these immigrants cultivate early in their lives in the States can scarcely be put to use here without proper citizenship documentation.

These students cannot reach their full potential because they must stay under the radar. They must avoid being found out, which also means avoiding the careers they might otherwise aspire to in favor of jobs that simply do not make adequate use of their talents.

In a 2010 letter signed by nine Illinois college and university presidents in support of the DREAM Act, these lost talents are highlighted.

“Our economy needs their talents more than ever. Our military is spread too thin,” the letter states. “But to these aspiring students, our country says ‘no thank you.’ Don’t start your business. Don’t cure the sick. Don’t make the ultimate sacrifice.”

Some feel it is unfair to offer citizenship to these illegal immigrants who did not have to go through the difficult process of obtaining citizenship legally in the first place. But it is also unfair to deny these students the opportunity to live as American citizens, when their immigration here was often not even in their own hands and yet they love and want to better this country.

Lucas Da Silva, who was 1 year old when he was brought to the U.S. from his native Brazil, is one example.

“Brazil is completely foreign to me, I don’t know the culture or customs,” Da Silva said, according to a Fox News article. “This is what I’m used to, this is my home and I just want an opportunity to be able to work here and to be able to contribute.”

Some Americans also fear that these students would take jobs and opportunities from natural-born citizens, but that is not necessarily the case.

In a 2010 Boston Globe article, Wendy Sefsaf, communications director at Immigration Policy Center (a DREAM Act supporter), made an interesting point. Sefsaf said the fact that university presidents were not speaking out against the act “diminishes any argument that allowing undocumented students to go to college is bad for universities, in terms of economic impact, pushing other students out, or overcrowding.”

It seems as though if those negative repercussions were truly something to fear, numerous universities would have sounded off long ago.

Instead, several universities have declared their support for passage of the act, and it is time for Baylor to step up and do the same. America has much to offer these students, but they have much to offer our country as well. This act could be the first step toward truly sharing in those benefits, and saving what would otherwise become lost talents.