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Wharton sophomore Tania Chairez and other undocumented student activists pressing for the DREAM Act deserve our support. Their courage strengthens democratic practices within the borders of the United States. Those of us who value our inclusive society want to ensure that kind, decent people do not live in fear. No middle schooler growing up in the United States should be forced to realize that she has inherited an outsider status that separates her from the only national community she knows, as Tania has described. Our educational institutions are impoverished when inherited hierarchies divide students from one another and our neighborhoods are culturally depleted when some live in fear of being “denounced” as outsiders. People who contribute to the places in which they live, work and study are not outsiders. Passing the DREAM Act is only one step toward meaningful immigration reform, but it’s a step the country should take.

Ann Farnsworth-Alvear is a History professor in the Latin American & Latino Studies Program. Her email address is

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