Passing the DREAM Act Would Acknowledge the Human Rights of Migrant Children and Benefit All of Us
November 6th was a good day for human rights, at least in Maryland. Not only did the state's voters support same-sex marriage, they also voted in favor of expanding access to higher education for all of Maryland's students, regardless of their immigration status.
While the Maryland ballot initiative on education is great for young migrants in that state, it highlights the fact that federal action is sorely needed to protect the human rights and dignity of migrants everywhere.
There is some good news. In June this year, President Obama signed an executive order preventing the Department of Homeland Security from deporting undocumented immigrants under 30 who came to the United States before they were 16 years old, and who fulfill a number of other criteria regarding their moral standing and education.
However, while this change rightly was hailed as a positive development for hundreds of thousands of young people, it does not overcome the need for legislative action -- President Obama himself called it a "stop-gap" measure. In fact, it is now more than decade since a bipartisan initiative proposing similar benefits first was introduced in the Senate under the title "Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act."
The idea behind the original bill -- and the various versions of it introduced over the years -- was to open the possibility for higher education and ultimately citizenship for noncitizen children of good moral character, regardless of their immigration status.