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Grace Ackles of Healdsburg High

By GRACE ACKLES
HEALDSBURG HIGH SCHOOL, 17, SENIOR

Everyone has their share of “first-world problems,” whether they are aware of it or not, and many will go though life continuing to get upset about such things as not being able to get the latest version of their smartphone or having to witness the tragic absence of stairs on their high school campus. Luckily, most manage to get through the day despite these hardships because on some level we are all more or less educated and are aware that we have what is known as “the good life” compared to the rest of the world.
Regardless, few stop to consider how it would feel not to have this underlying idea of freedom and potential and future possibilities set out before them. This general ignorance is strange, considering how prominent illegal immigration is in California. Of course, it is difficult to fathom the frustration of growing up in an American town as long as one can remember, attending American schools, memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance since the first grade and spending four years taking AP courses and preparing for college, only to discover that you aren’t able to register for the SATs nor ever apply to college because 15 years ago your parents brought you across the border illegally. These blameless children are denied the American Dream and stamped as lesser individuals, all because they were born in a country they quite possibly can’t even remember.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, would lift this inherited misfortune from about 65,000 youths. As long as one enters the U.S. before age 16, obtains a high school diploma or GED and displays “good moral character,” they are given the opportunity to seek further education. If they graduate college within six years or join the military for at least two, they are rewarded with permanent citizenship. Why preserve their restriction?
A number of opinions are blatantly led by racism, while others question the ethics of the situation. Many are concerned scholarships, which would otherwise be given to U.S. citizens, will instead be spent on immigrants, underhandedly condoning and possibly encouraging illegal immigration. But, realistically, illegal immigrants are still going to be around whether it’s encouraged or not. People worry about crime rates, increased taxes and loss of integrity. The DREAM Act would give incentive for being deemed as having “good moral character,” thus lowering crime rate. The DREAM Act would encourage illegal youths to strive for college and career rather than being limited and forced to depend on federal aid, thus lowering taxes. The DREAM Act would give thousands of individuals — ethnicity and birthplace set aside — the inspiration to live a more fulfilling life, thus verifying the principle of equality, the very thing that gives our country it’s integrity in the first place.

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