Education is our passport
By Ish H
The DREAM Act, first proposed in 2001, stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.
Being undocumented is a struggle that we all have to deal with each and every single day. There are various times when we realize how shitty of a position we are in, and how much of a disadvantage we are at. We can’t drive, we can’t travel in the country without being afraid of the consequences that it might bring (Looking at you, Greyhound and Amtrak), we can’t even walk into a bar without being looked at weirdly. All of that is true. What is also true is that being undocumented has put our education in jeopardy.
States such as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have banned undocumented students from receiving post-secondary education. Other states have made it difficult for their residents to go to colleges or universities, either by enacting laws that requires an individual to prove his or her lawful residency, or by not having an in-state tuition law in place. This has led to a lot of DREAMers, some of whom I know personally, to drop out of school. Some are waiting to go back if and when the DREAM Act or CIR happens. Some have even dropped out during high school, to help out their families. For some, the burden of being undocumented has become so high, that going to school and getting a degree is the furthest thing on their minds. That is a problem. Why are we all here in the first place? We have been brought here for a better future. Our parents brought us here because they wanted to put us in the best possible position for success. Then, it’s ironic that some of us are here, without school, when we know that the future our parents have dreamt of will be harder to achieve without proper education.
Now, I am not a big fan of the institutional educational system that we have in place here. It definitely has its flaws and could use a big makeover. But the point is that education is needed, and it is vital. It is what we can use as our guide and ally when people speak against us (and what can separate us from their ignorance lest we make the same mistakes ourselves.)
Ultimately, that is what we can use for our support, for our cause. Most consider it one of the most basic human rights, along with shelter, food, and clothes. We keep telling people that we are fighting for our rights, and when we are asked those rights are, most of the time, we answer by saying that it is the right to live in this country. But, maybe we should change our stance and really make this a basic human rights issue by demanding that we get proper education. Nobody is asking for a free education; we really just want our fair share. We are paying taxes, and not getting a single dime back. We are oppressed as it is; why should we have to suffer even more so, by being forced to remain uneducated?
It is hard for some of us, especially those who live in some of the aforementioned brutal states, but we can come together to fight. The fortunate ones, like me, who get to live in California, and get the benefit of the in-state tuition, along with scholarships and grants, have to fight for those who are stuck in Alabama, Georgia, etc. We also have to try our best to show our friends who have discontinued their education that it is in their best interest that they resume. At the end, no matter what happens to us, we have to fulfill the reason we were brought here in the first place- for a better life. At this day and age, the only way that is possible is through proper education. Through education, we can carve our own way to freedom and dreams. As the Greek Sage and Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said, “We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”
Ish is an undocumented youth organizing out of California. He loves to be badass and will ball you up, son!