When the DREAM Act was proposed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in 2001 in response to a gifted young constiuent being kept from attending Julliard due to her undocumented status, it seemed — as it still does — like "common sense reform." So why, then, despite being on the floor of the Senate twice and the House once, cannot it not get passed?
The legislation that would provide undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children a path toward legal status through education or the military has had a long journey, says Angela Maria Kelley, executive director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. But, despite its lack of ratification, progress is being made, most powerfully by the young people affected.
There has begun "a real maturation of the young people who grew up in this country, who reached a point in their young lives, where they said 'I've got nothing to lose, so I'm going to come out and admit that I'm undocumented and I am going to fight for relief for myself, for my friends, and for my family,'" says Kelley. "You now have an extraordinarily robust, youth-led movement of DREAMers, and everybody knows what the DREAM Act is and who DREAMers are."
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Kelley, visiting the Ed School for an Askwith Forums panel commemorating the anniversary of the legistlation, reflects on the first 15 years of the DREAM Act and what can be done to keep things moving forward.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.