Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing Penn junior Tania Chairez speak at a public forum. Her honest, straightforward story captivated a room of more than 300 people. It was impossible to hear her speak and not be moved by the passion, determination and intellectual spark of this young woman.
As a Penn alumna, I was deeply disappointed to log on to The Daily Pennsylvanian’s website later that night and find a series of ugly and ignorant responses to Chairez’s guest column.
Regardless of one’s emotional reaction to immigration, there are some aspects of her story that are simple fact. One, there is effectively no legal pathway under which Chairez’s parents could have applied to come to the United States. Two, there is no way for her to apply to change her status now. She will graduate from Penn with a stellar degree and no legal way to earn her living.
I am as diligent a rule-follower and law-obeyer as you are likely to find. I report extra income on my taxes and stop for red lights in the middle of the night. And I advocate every day for bright and shining would-be Americans like Chairez to be able to live out their dreams here, in the land of opportunity.
When the law is irretrievably broken, the solution is for people to come together to make a new law. I encourage my fellow members of the Penn community to join me in support of the DREAM Act, which would provide students like Chairez with a just, fair and humane way to apply for legal status in the United States.
One final thought: If my great-grandparents had arrived under today’s immigration laws, their children would have been Chairezs too.
CGS ’99 and former DP columnist
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