Nearly a year ago I had a epiphany, I thought it was my calling. I wanted to create an advocacy group to support passage of the Dream Act. Its been a year since I came up with this momentous idea and I haven’t started squat. I’ve done some nonchalant research and found a few resources that gather and support this very act and was discouraged to start my own venture on this crucial topic. Here is the downlow.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to NY when I was 6 with a visitors visa that expired in 1994. My parents never took the responsibility to renew my visa which resulted in my not being to apply for a permit at 16, apply for college after high school, apply for a full time salaried job. Upon turning 21 I was deemed/doomed an independent and had to fend my undocumented status on my own. I carried much anger and bitterness against this governmental system and even more upon my parents for not realizing the dire consequences of their idiotic laziness and ignorance. I am getting heating just thinking about it. City universities were the only schools that would accept undocumented students, not to mention I was not qualified for financial aid, loans, or scholarships. I was admitted to Hunter where I received a very mediocre education and worked with a tax id # that only allowed me to work on a independent contractor basis. Many companies denied my resume, not because I wasn’t qualified, some were heartbroken with being unable to hire me, but because I didn’t have a social security number which prevents my being able to receive health insurance and W2 status. I’ve worked a few odd jobs and some companies took the risk of hiring me full time as a freelancer which if audited they could be heavily fined. I attempted sponsorship with a company, who only fucked me over in their hesitance to reveal tax papers, and also attempted marriage which was just plain complicated. It broke my soul to think the easiest fastest way to receive legal status was through marriage, the idea of giving into an institution of bondage and permanence was too much to bear. I’ve never traveled outside of NY minus brief road trip to Minnesota and train ride to Miami for the art fair. I’ve never lived in any state, and have never left the country. If I leave, I won’t be admitted for another 10 years as punishment. I’ve developed all sorts of phobias and nervous ticks, manifested by my feeling repressed and trapped, helpless and imprisoned. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive my parents for this douchbaggery, no matter how much I try to come to peace with it.
But. I have found contentment and quite honestly there is nowhere else I’d rather be than right here, right now, doing what I do whenever I do them. Mind you I would be a completely different person if things were otherwise but I’ve survived. I’ve found my niche in the artosphere and blogosphere and things are working in ways that keep me hopeful and productive. Obama is a few days away from being inaugurated and I can sigh a deep sigh of relief knowing he will work on having the Dream Act passed. What is the Dream Act you ask? Well, a brief excerpt from change.org:
The problem: Many American students graduate from college and high school each year, and face a roadblock to their dreams: they can’t drive, can’t work legally, can’t further their education, and can’t pay taxes to contribute to the economy just because they were brought to this country illegally by their parents or lost legal status along the way. It is a classic case of lost potential and broken dreams, and the permanent underclass of youth it creates is detrimental to our economy. Former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said: “In short, although these children have built their lives here, they have no possibility of achieving and living the American dream. What a tremendous loss for them, and what a tremendous loss to our society.”
The solution: The federal DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is a bipartisan legislation that would permit these students conditional legal status and eventual citizenship granted that they meet ALL the following requirements:
–if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age of 30,
–have lived here continuously for five years,
–graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED
–have good moral character with no criminal record and
–attend college or enlist in the military.
Why should you care? There is no other pathway to citizenship for these students. Besides the injustice of punishing children for the alleged transgressions of their parents, throwing away the talent we have invested in from K-12 and accruing losses in human and financial capital by deporting talented students is bad public policy. The Social Security Administration has recently stated that we need a net increase of 100,000 immigrants each year to ensure Social Security solvency. Passing the DREAM Act would actually help solve the Social Security crisis by creating a larger taxable base of educated Americans that are already in the United States. It would also free some of the backlog that currently plagues the legal immigration system. Also, the DREAM Act in its latest form, does not grant in-state tuition to any student.
Folks over at DreamActivist.org have been working their asses off to have the Dream Act be one of top ten ideas to present to Obama for change. I wasn’t as helpful for this cause as I wanted to be in the last year, but it looks like folks are running it smoothly without me. But I contend I will do what I can now to further enlighten this movement and work to have the Dream Act passed. I’m thinking of launching a website with youtube interviews of victims such as I to share their story and hold events, auctions, petition signings and the likes to promote this law.
What can you do to help? Spread the word, and vote for this issue at Change.gov