Citizens with college education or military service? Citizens with high school diplomas and good moral character? Apparently, these requirements were not sufficient for a handful of US Senators who voted down the DREAM Act today. The DREAM Act would have allowed a path to citizenship for some immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children under the age of 16 and met strict criteria for residency, public service and education.
A dream has ended for vulnerable children and young adults who have already had many challenges and setbacks in life. This decision leaves them in an undocumented netherworld, instead of allowing them an opportunity to earn a place in the American dream. Perhaps these Senators are hoping that these young people will leave their childhood homes and return to the very circumstances of poverty and prejudice that forced their initial flight. While some may, many will not.
We are risking another “lost generation”, another group of minority young people without a chance for an education or work to better themselves, their dreams dried up. Certainly by now, with our painful history of the civil rights movement, we should have learned what happens to a dream deferred?