Let The Dreamers Dream

A national issue rests on our shoulders.


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As a student of Hamline University, I arrived with a dream: the accomplished life.

We spend our four years at Hamline imagining our ideal future; after the tests, the homework, and the stress, we only hope that our dreams are realized in the end.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a dream-maker. DACA grants undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. protection from deportation and a work permit. These same youth are free to pursue a higher education and enter college life, at Hamline or elsewhere. The kicker: DACA is planned to be dismantled in six months and it leaves students in an awkward position.

I was born in the Philippines, a cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean. I took an airplane to the U.S when I was only a year old and eventually moved to Minnesota. While I emigrated to this country legally and am a citizen, I have to wonder what it would have been like if I had been in a different situation. I wouldn’t be as content with where I am now had I been dealt a bad hand.

The thought that Hamline students may lose this valuable protection is unsettling. According to an an analysis from the Migration Policy Institute in 2014, 606,000 DACA members are currently enrolled in high school or college – more than half of all participants.

I can sympathize with the Dreamers. Student status doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from the new rules. These students not only may be unable to work, but in addition, are not eligible for federal grants or aid. Something will have to change, or students all around the U.S will be left to wait, twiddling their thumbs in uncertainty.

Let’s not get far ahead of ourselves, either. Hamline may be a smaller college, and we may feel all uppity and isolated from these events, but the big problem is that it affects us all. I am sure that there are many people who worry about these events in Hamline. It may be a stranger’s face in Anderson, a friend made in class, or a co-worker whose employment may suffer. Lives are dependent on this resource. Lives are in the hands of all of us. Lives are looking for their dreams.

President Miller talked about this subject in her speech to the first-year class. She stood up, confident and headstrong, declaring, “You cannot have them.

They are Dreamers. They belong to us.” As a part of her audience, I thought about how rare it is to see someone so committed to a cause. I could feel her resolve not only in her, but in the other faculty. She assured us all that Hamline would use its resources to protect its students. It doesn’t stop at Hamline — hundreds of other universities have taken up the promise to protect their students.

When I think of this, I want to believe that people are due an equal chance at a successful future. For much of our lives, we are told about the “American Dream.” How can we exclude these people from the nation’s ultimate dream? It is unfair to strip those wishes from people who arrived so young. We cannot deprive them of what little they have been given.

What we can do as a university is spread awareness about the issue and make sure campus resources are available for those who need them. I realize that there are many obstacles ahead – discussions to be made, debates to be arranged, and an uncertain future to face. In the meantime, we must accommodate as many dreams as we can and make them reality.

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