Kids Who Need the DREAM Act

I’m just going to be honest. I spent the afternoon talking to a couple of kids who really, really need the DREAM act.  And yet, I’m sitting here wondering just how much of who they were and where we met and how the meeting came to pass a girl can say in public without putting people in danger.  I know that’s stupid, but I have become convinced that the situation on the ground here in Nashville is literally that stupid.

So, I’ll say that I met with two kids, C. and H., who are here illegally and have been since they were very small children.  They’ve just finished up high school and they now can’t go to college at in-state rates or get jobs or drive or come to the attention of the police in any way.

I guess I must have known that there was no path to citizenship for these kids, but until you’re sitting across from someone and looking in his face when he says it, it doesn’t really sink in.  There is no line for these kids to get in.  They’ve been in the U.S. almost their whole lives. There’s no “back to where they came from” for them to go to, because they come from here.  But there’s no way for them to become U.S. citizens.

I mean, seriously, when you’re sitting at a table with a teenage girl who speaks with a thick Tennessee accent and she’s talking about being afraid of being deported…

I’m going to write something strong and knowledgeable about this at Feministe, but here?

I can’t do it.

These kids are talking about just wanting to be able to go to college and get jobs and give back to a country they feel like has given them so much.  They’re talking about just wanting a chance.  And, y’all, though they know there’s a core group of folks whose minds they’re never going to change, they’re talking like the problem is just that you don’t know.

You just must not know that they’ve been here since they were tiny and they consider themselves Tennesseans and that they speak with our accent and that they love this place and are from here and yet have no way to legally be from the here.  You just must not know that they want to go to college and get jobs and give back.

Both of my brothers could have gone to college and they both went for about half a semester and then found that goofing off and breaking their mother’s heart was more fun.  And I was sitting with these two kids thinking about how they just want a chance that people in my family squandered. Couldn’t they have my brothers’ slots?

I mean, of course not.  That’s not how it works.

But what a fucking waste.  Jesus Christ.

And, America, these kids believe in us–that, if we knew, we would not do this to them.

But I don’t believe that. I think we do know and we do it anyway.

And I find that so upsetting.

To put it mildly.

41 thoughts on “Kids Who Need the DREAM Act

  1. Yep. They don’t have the SS number that they’d need to file the FAFSA paperwork that is mandatory to initiate the process of financial aid, which almost all colleges require that you file for before they’ll even put forward a tuition package — whether or not they will give you a dime of student aid. They also can’t demonstrate, since they lack the appropriate paperwork, that they registered for the draft (if they are male) or that they didn’t have to (if they are female) — that’s a mandatory piece of your admission package, without which you can’t enroll.

    There are other obstacles — including why the hell should they have to pay out-of-state rates when they’ve been living in Tennessee for over a decade — but to answer the question at the most basic…nope. They can’t enroll.

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  3. So I pop on to reconnect with the outside world (or at least the world outside my own chaotic world), and get a laugh, and, instead, find myself literally in tears.

    I don’t get it. I just don’t.

    Thanks for doing your best to give a voice to C and H and the others just like them. I hear them through you. Thanks for having a heart that cares.

  4. Aunt B,
    Actually, they can go to college…I sent your post to a certain college President who has spent a great deal of time tackling this very issue.

    There are two individuals besides the college President who have the heart to educate..and they work with Hispanic community where this issue has become the norm and they are working to get the kids legal….

    It’s good to know they want to go to college…no they will not have to pay out of state fees.

    Great topic for #coffeesummitt

  5. This is my reality, my hell. Perfect grades, in all sorts of clubs, all star athlete yet I can’t go to college or even join the military.

    My dream is to go to West Point, a dream that is slowly fading since I graduated.

  6. Wait, I thought one could at least join the military and get citizenship that way. Even that is not true? I just … I can’t even begin to comprehend this.

  7. I work with thousands of kids and young adults like this daily. But we are organizing them for change. If you meet more adults like these, send them our way.

    And thank you for your kind words and support.

  8. Pingback: Sharing Our Stories Makes a Difference | DREAMACTIVIST

  9. So lets say a couple decides to rob a bank and get away with several thousand dollars. They never get caught and give the money to their kids intending for them to use it to pay for college. Just before enrolling in college, the parents are found out. Should the money be confiscated or should we allow the children to benifit from their parents’ crime?

  10. No, I’m sorry, actually. Let’s not. I cannot stand to sit here and even speculate about under which circumstances it’s okay for us to fuck over kids. It’s disgusting.

    Retreating into imaginary scenarios under which we can justify our evilness is cowardly. It just is.

  11. So, Jim, you figure that the children of bank robbers should be forbidden to attend college? Interesting take.

  12. No nm, I believe people that break the law should not profit from it, or be able to use their breaking of the law to let someone else profit from it. In this case, the children in question were brought into this country illegally by their parents or some other adult. Even though the children themselves did not knowingly break the law, they should not benifit from the illegal actions taken on their behalf. So, I am illustrating that point with an example. Most people I think would agree that you should not be allowed to pass on stolen or illegally obtained property. If found, isn’t stolen property removed from your possession by the police even if you did not know it was stolen? Why should illegal immigration be treated differently from other crimes? Why are you willing for people to profit from crime in this case when in all other cases you would not?

  13. I see … so, as infants, those young folks should have demanded to go back to wherever it is their parents brought them from. And should have gone back on their own once their parents refused. So that they could have gone through the educational systems of those countries and ben prepared for college there instead. Yeah, that works. There is no possible functional analogy to be made here to theft or receipt of stolen goods unless you are advocating banning the children of thieves and fences from college. Which you say you are not. Therefore your analogy fails.

  14. There is something analogous there. But the disanalogies are glaring. If stolen money was confiscated from those kids, they are not in fact prevented from going to college. They would be merely prevented from paying for college with those monies. That is not a crime or a gross miscarriage of justice. Children brought here against their will without other options should not be left to suffer their parents’ mistakes (or even crimes).

  15. Plus, let us not forget that robbing a bank is a criminal offense. If you rob a bank and get caught, you will have a trial and you will go to prison. If you enter this country (or stay beyond your visa) illegally, you’ve committed a civil offense.

    The fact that people are willing to conflate criminal offenses with civil offenses in order to argue for why we should be allowed to hurt children just hurts my head.

  16. Jeez Jimmy…

    …these kids are not smash-n-grab thieves. Send ’em to college and maybe set up a program where they could put their educations to use serving their communities for a while. I bet most would be glad to do so.

  17. How about this –

    Let’s treat them like they were legal aliens. Offspring of parents who did all the right things to come to this country and obey all of our criminal and civil laws.

    What would be wrong with that?

    Would they have to pay out of state tuition? Don’t know, but if they did, why should they get a break over those who did things the right way?

  18. nope these kids arent even allowed to go into the military. my best friend is in this situation. he would be great in the military, wants to go to war and everything, but hes not able to because he has no ssn.

    *nm if you have a green card you can join and become a citizen, but if you are illegal your not allowed to join at all

    and on top of it all he has to pay out of state tuition at a state college which turns out to be like $12,000 plus room, board, books…i wish something like this would pass for him

  19. I’m so glad to know there are others who share a basic compassion for young people. I deal with this quite often and am always heartbroken to have no answer. Just to clarify though, anyone who doesn’t presently have permanent residency or citizenship is considered undocumented. there are options. its hard, but possible. We need to fight for children. I’m sad for someone who thinks children should be held accountable for the actions of the adults around them.

  20. I am proud of my country, the United States of America, the greatest country in the world. I spent 47 years working for the defense of my country, from the real enemy, not one conjured up by misguided hateful citizens bent on criminalizing undocumented immigrants. Comparing an undocumented immigrant to a bank robber is absurd. This country is great because of its belief in human rights and freedom for all mankind. Please do not diminish its greatness with hateful acts towards these undocumented students. These students are not criminals and need a helping hand from us who only by the grace of God were born in this great country.Thank you Aunt B. for posting your touching testament.

  21. If harsh and strict laws were always enforced regarding citizenship in this country many of those may not have been born in this country. Bascially in the past greencards were simply handed out and immigration from certain countries was actually encouraged. The first unfavorable attitude to immigration was with the Chinese and of course now Latinos mostly from Mexico. I assure everyone if these immigrants were Scandinavians we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Regardless of what anyone wants to say about the parents breaking the law it is the childrens life that matters. Like people have said in their responses above, their is nothing a child can do if their parent makes up their mind to move to another country they will grow up as normal Americans until reality hits them hard in adulthood that they are missing pertinent documents. I always like to say to myself ” If not for the grace of god their goes I”. We can’t control the situations in which we are born or grow up into. Adults are the only ones who can choose to be illegal immigrants not children. If a child is raped do we say the child asked for it? Why not? Because we assume that the child was either physically and/or mentally overpowered. So someone tell me how a child is able to overpower their parents make it back to their country and sustain life on their own. Right it won’t happen. I want everyone to imagine being whisked away from their warm bed and the social circle they know to be sent away to a far distant land. Well for many undocumented children that is what it would be like. This bill makes it so that only productive young adults will be able to become citizens they must either go to the military or complete 2 years of college(without financial aid). So what are people complaining about? I am all for sending back criminals and unproductive people but for people who jsut want a slice of the American Dream and willing ot work hard for it. Why deny them? If you are living in this country now it means the chance was given to your ancestors that is why you can say you are an American because they weren’t turned back and they were able to create a life for their family and future generations here.

  22. Someone call ICE on these kids, and arrest “Aunt B” for harboring criminals. What part of illegal do you ex-hippies not understand? Are you OK in this economy with paying for people who do not contribute to the system?

  23. So, Aunt B, you freely admit that you have no respect for the laws of your State, and of the United States of America? What a poor example to set for children.

    However, if you choose to break the law, you must be ready to accept the consequences.

  24. Thank you for taking your time to hear two young students who need the Dream Act. Also, Thank you for supporting the Dream Act and getting the attention of many people.

  25. anyone who doesn’t presently have permanent residency or citizenship is considered undocumented.

    well, except for folks here on tourist visas, work visas, or other temporary papers. and folks in the process of adjusting status (green card applied for, usually), a process which often takes years. and a few others; but your point stands, as all those still have some documentation for why and how they’re allowed to be here.

  26. Of course wanting to join the army, get a job and pay taxes, study, help others, these are all major ways of not contributing to the system. And these kids’ dreadful, dreadful parents: working jobs that citizens won’t take, for well below minimum wage (often with taxes deducted anyway), so folks like PATRIOT can pay lower prices for the things they want, that is also sooooooo not contributing. B, how can you have been defending these deadbeats?

  27. What a poor example to set for children.
    Holy shit patriot, do you see the irony in that statement? You just said Aunt B is setting a poor example for children by trying to help children and insinuated that the good example is having children arrested for the illegalities of their parents.

    Illegal imigrants do contribute. They pay the same sales tax all of us in TN pay. And I think nm pointed it out the best…. their contributions are limited only by the fact that people like you would want them deported if they tried to do more.

  28. It’s also funny how ‘setting a poor example for the children’ is some kind of weapon that’s supposed to control a person’s behavior.

  29. I’m about to the point where I favour rescinding all immigration laws with the exception of barring those with a violent criminal past. Because while I believe strongly in the rule of law I’m to the place where I think these laws–like drug laws– are stupid.

  30. That being said, I know one or two pro-immigration ppl who make me want to take the opposite stance purely because of their arrogance, rudeness and general distaste for society as a whole. They should realise they’d do more for their cause if they’d bow out of the discussion.

  31. I’m coming to believe that every big movement (no matter which political side it’s on) has its PETA people, who make people so angry they inspire you to do the opposite of what they claim to be working towards. In fact, it would be kind of funny if “PETA people” became a generic phrase that just means “folks who anti-inspire people to their cause.”

    Anyway, yes, I’m not buying the whole “for the children, we must be unbelievably cruel to the children.” It’s the destroying the village to save the village argument with a hair of “you might have their illegal immigrant cooties on you now.”

    It’s embarrassing to see grown people behaving that way here.

  32. I just finally broke down and decided to try and condense a couple years’ worth of thinking into a blog post of 1000 words. I don’t know that it is any significance at all, but I think I had to do it just for my own peace of mind.

    “PETA people” is the EXACT best way to describe those folks in any kind of movement. Especially now that I as a non-federalised HC person see all the PETA people at the town halls who make me just want to scrub with a brillo pad.

  33. In fact, even illegal immigrants contribute to our economy. Some get access to a tax-payer number through some consulates in the U.S. I mean, c’mon, they have a number to file and pay taxes! Talk about carrying a big stick of doing the right thing in the midst of injustice.
    And let’s be real about this situation, if the bill passes, these young students would most likely have to pay for their documentation to be filed. Do you know what that means? It’s not amnesty in terms of law, but rather in the denotation of the word. However, it would be once they pay a monetary price.
    These students, IF and only if, they get access to attending community colleges and universities here in the U.S., they’re paying 3.5 times more tuition than an in-state tuition. So what if they get access to pay in-state tuition? It helps colleges to increase enrollment. And perhaps, have the most apt of students in their classrooms. Remember that only about 1% of the world population has access to college. Why deny them the opportunity to make the U.S. a better and greater nation if they wish to give back to the community?
    Aunt B., THANK YOU for taking your time to meet with these students and for posting this story.

    Let’s reflect upon our words.

  34. In fact, even illegal immigrants contribute to our economy.

    well, yeah, that’s why people hire them after all. their employers certainly think their labor is worth their wages — more, in fact, or said employers would be foolish to hire them on.

    from that point of view, your average illegal immigrant is in very much the same boat as any other working poor person in the country. so they don’t insure their vehicles? golly, never heard of any legal resident ever failing to do that. so they have to use expensive emergency rooms for each and every of their medical needs? um, wait a minute, i’ll think of somebody else who has to do that… or forty million somebodies. so they don’t always pay income taxes? i have an easy solution: give them work permits and they’ll be able to.

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