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The American Dream is an often-mentioned aspiration that does not mean much to us anymore. For many of us, our parents or grandparents already achieved it to allow us to live with reasonable opulence and opportunity.

Paradoxically, it is perhaps in illegal immigrants that the American Dream flourishes best. Motivated by their desire to give their children a better upbringing than the one they themselves received, these newcomers are determined to achieve success. We may debate about the appropriateness of these immigrants’ actions with convincing arguments on both sides, but one thing is clear — the children bear no blame.

Brought to the United States at young ages by their parents, these children are essentially American. They are our friends and classmates; they watch the same television shows, listen to the same music and sport the same fashions. There is just one difference: They can be deported at any time.

Fortunately, some legislators recognize the inherent injustice in faulting children for their parents’ actions. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act seeks to allow permanent residency for undocumented young adults who entered the United States as children, have lived in the country for at least five years and are pursuing higher education.

The bill was defeated in 2006 and 2007 for a variety of reasons. Some members of Congress were concerned about giving amnesty to illegal immigrants. Others were in favor of the DREAM Act, but wanted it to be a part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Legislators have been speaking of comprehensive immigration reform for many years now, but we have yet to see any results. Reform bills have failed several times in recent years for lack of compromise. The issue has also taken a back seat in President Barack Obama’s agenda, which is dominated by health care and the economy. But the DREAM Act shouldn’t wait.

According to the DREAM Act Portal, a website dedicated to helping pass the bill, comprehensive immigration reform will not be achieved soon, so we need to convince Congress to pass it on its own. “We need to urge our Congress representatives and senators about the importance of passing DREAM on its own instead of including the bill along with [comprehensive immigration reform or else] it will be a long time before the DREAM Act becomes law,” the website stated.

The movement to get the DREAM Act passed has been gaining much momentum, especially in the higher-education community. After the remarkable efforts of Penn student organizations, such as Chicano culture group MEChA and the Latino Coalition, Penn President Amy Gutmann joined a growing list of university presidents who have thrown their support behind the bill, including the presidents of Harvard and Stanford Universities. Even the College Board issued a press release in favor of the bill.

Especially noteworthy are the efforts of Harvard students, who created the student organization Act On A Dream, which focuses on “providing immigrant students equal educational opportunities by means of lobbying, educating the public and raising awareness within campus communities and throughout the nation.” The group is sponsoring an Immigrant Rights Awareness Week, as well as a rally on May 1 that will include speeches from supporters and even undocumented students themselves.

MEChA’s next campaign, a campus-wide letter-writing effort to inform students of the issue, is an equally commendable one. Perhaps it should also consider a partnership with other college groups such as Act On A Dream. Rallies supporting the DREAM Act held on campuses nationwide would do a great deal to promote the cause.

Supporters of the DREAM Act should capitalize on their momentum to ensure the passage of the bill so that undocumented students’ dreams can finally become a reality.

Prameet Kumar is a Wharton sophomore from New York. His e-mail address is Political Penndit appears on Wednesdays.

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