Dream Act

Maggy Hanlon, Reporter

Editorial Note: Junior Maggy Hanlon attended a Mercy conference in Washington D.C. with other Misericordia students, and she submitted this reflection–and call for political action.

Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” We have all heard this quote one time or another in our lives, and we are all at Misericordia University to do the same things–graduate, find a good job and live a long, happy life. But these goals cannot be reached without education. We all share this goal of success, but lately, all we seem to focus on is our differences. We all have different opinions, beliefs, friends, families–the list goes on–but what we seem to forget is how similar we all are to each other. We have fallen into this view that we are all individuals, period. Today, we forget the common ground where there is a place for all of us to stand. This is something that our nation has forgotten as well, so this summer, four students, including myself, made our way to Washington, DC for one thing: to lobby for the DREAM ACT in Maryland. Alyssa Leonard, Catie Becker, Shannon Joyce and I all practiced our right to freedom of speech to try to get signatures for this bill, but what we came to find was not so reassuring.

We realized while we were there, that we share another similarity: we are all citizens of the United States of America, something that is unfortunately not so easily obtained by others. America was built on its own motto, freedom. While it may not be as catchy as Drake’s “Y.O.L.O,” I like to think of it as something of great importance. Unfortunately, other Americans tend to be greedy with their born rights, such as freedom, and tend to become the bully of the sand box. Some Americans forget that we live in a nation of immigrants and that, although we have lived here for years, we are not the rightful natives of this land. The first people to cultivate this land were the Native Americans who now live on reservations, stuck to the limitations we’ve burdened them with, which is the complete opposite of what we preach.

We have gone from the melting pot, which is a term referring to a soup that mends together as one meal with many flavors, to the salad bowl, referring to a mixture but missing the classic blend. We have lost our open arms policies when it comes to immigration. In fact, we are always so negative in the news about our country’s debt, we forget to mention that it is not free to deport one person, and who knows if this person will be carefully returned to his native land. Often times, deported immigrants end up in foreign lands or even detention centers where workers get paid about $90 an immigrant and only about $60 an American citizen. The four of us learned that Wells Fargo Bank is behind this with its lobbyists tricking senators and representatives with their money and greed. We call this the land of the free? It takes years to become a citizen, and that is the true issue.

The DREAM ACT supplies the solution, a path to citizenship. It entails that immigrants who come here at a young age must graduate from high school and complete at least two years of college or serve our country in order to gain citizenship of the United States. This bill may not be perfect, but it’s a start. We all know as bright, young college students that we have to start somewhere.  Well here it is, but representatives and governors are ignoring this. They are too busy fighting for power and re-election votes to see the simple solution to this terrible problem. The four of us got to hear some personal stories of immigrants who could not get insurance because of their lack of citizenship, despite their suffering from terrible illnesses. We learned that foreigners, who immigrated here as young children, grew up, made homes, made lives, and made friends were deported because they were short of one thing: they were not born here.

I cannot see the justice in that. None of us were truly born here. I can speak on my own behalf that my ancestors came from Ireland through Boston, and can make an educated guess that they did not have papers to show for their citizenship. So how can I, a person of Irish decent, deport someone because they were not born here? It is unfair and unjust. Now, I’m not saying let anyone come and live here. I understand the drug cartels and all the other negative extremists, but what about the Hispanic girl who dreams of being a doctor? What about the Russian boy who loves New York City and wants to go to an art school there? What about the Mexican, Bulgarian, Puerto Rican, Welsh, Irish, or whatever the person’s heritage may be, dreaming of getting the opportunities we are just born with access to? Our founding fathers built this country around the people in it, so why are we making material objects the priority and people the issue? It is greed and not the true American way.

So with that said, do not go through life just sitting back, doing nothing. Get out there like we did in Washington DC, and make a difference. Do not take your born rights for granted because others do not have the luxuries we don’t even think of as gifts. Others have to work for the rights we are born with. It is the luck of the draw, but we, as the people, have the power to change that. Use your knowledge, research things, read the newspaper, and always strive to make your neighborhood, community, state, country, and even yourself better. In November, cast your vote because you have the right to vote for the presidential candidate you want to, and make sure he is for the same just freedoms our country was founded upon.