By Thailandia Alaffita
On Saturday, October 8th, Governor Brown signed the “California DREAM Act” into law. This was a great success for, not only California DREAMers, but for DREAMers all around the nation, for one success means we are one step closer to our ultimate goal which is the DREAM Act.
Is this confusing to anyone?
With elections around the corner, politicians are back on their toes, and trying all kinds of schemes to get the people’s votes. The Latino vote is a very important and crucial one for all politicians, especially those with big Latino populations such as Texas and California. This might be tough to believe, but we are not all undocumented which means that some of us (a lot of us) can vote. And those of us who can’t vote are working determinedly to register people to vote. Surprise!
The DREAM Act has had a hard time becoming a law, and it will continue to, but that is another story. Different state DREAM Act advocate groups have focused on making their specific state more immigrant friendly and more accepting of DREAMers specifically. With the DREAM Act being something far-fetched, politicians are seeking ways to win the Latino vote and what better way than passing state DREAM Acts?
Being a Texan, I have had the luxury to attend college, and graduate from college, all paying in-state tuition. It was a bill that was signed into law before I graduated from high school, and that luckily, despite tireless efforts from my fellow Aggie conservatives, was not overturned before I graduated college. With that said, I never once called this bill the Texas DREAM Act, mainly because it is not!
During one of my many rants about what the DREAM Act is and what in-state tuition is to a new member of our organization, I was interrupted by an old member telling me that in-state tuition was NOT HB1403, SB1528, nor in-state tuition, but rather the Texas DREAM Act (this only after California passed their DREAM Act).
“Why doesn’t Texas pass its own DREAM Act like California did?” This new member asked. Well, simply because California didn’t pass a DREAM Act! And we all remember what happened in February when Utah attempted to give their undocumented population permits to work. It didn’t happen! Why? Because “this was something that should not be a state issue”.
I must add that I am not undermining all the hard work of my beloved Californian brothers and sisters in the struggle, simply that we should not call this a DREAM Act. As activists in the movement, we all know what we’re fighting for. In a nutshell, the DREAM Act is a bi-partisan piece of legislation that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to succeed and fully become a part of this country by putting them on a path to legalization if they fill certain criteria. In simpler terms, the DREAM Act would allow us to finish school and not hit another wall; it would allow us to continue our lives and legally work in the country. The equivalent of the DREAM Act at a state level would be if the states passed some sort of legislation like the one Utah tried to pass, a piece of legislation that would allow these students to work legally (at least in their state) post graduation.
Although California has taken a milestone step by passing what is in-state tuition for them, it is important to let people know that Governor Brown has passed only a part of what is our full dream. The first part is called in-state tuition and the second part is called DREAM Act. Titles are important and can often be misleading; it might seem like we getting something done for the DREAM Act but the truth is, coming from a DREAMer who got the benefits of in-state tuition, we are still in limbo without the DREAM Act.