Amnesty Intl. promotes DREAM Act
Aquib Yacoob ‘15 advocates for the DREAM Act at one of the mock border crossings set up by the Amnesty International chapter at the College.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in the United States Senate in Aug. 2001 and reintroduced in May this year.
The DREAM Act will allow illegal immigrants who are long-term U.S. residents to pursue an education without the fear of deportation. It will guarantee immigrants their basic human rights: the right to human dignity, to an education, to due process and to be free from discrimination.
This has become an important initiative of the Amnesty International chapter on the Hill. Aquib Yacoob ’15, the student area coordinator for Maine, said, “Immigration rights are human rights. Amnesty supports the belief that every child has the right to education and that family units need to be kept intact. They do not deserve to live in constant fear of deportation. This is what the DREAM Act in essence will achieve.”
Recent studies by the University of California at Los Angeles estimate that between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion in taxable income would be generated for the economy over a 40-year period from the 825,000 to 2.1 million potential DREAM Act beneficiaries. The Act, if approved and passed, will significantly increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because, as legal citizens, the beneficiaries will become taxpayers. Amnesty International believes that it would be to the United States’ advantage to grant illegal immigrants legal status. The government is currently providing public goods to illegal immigrants, and this act would mean that they could contribute as citizens.
This is what the College’s team of Amnesty International members lobbied for at the Office of United States Senator of Maine Olympia Snowe. Yacoob, who has served as a link between Amnesty International and a Philippine migrant group in New York City, said of this event, “We want the State of Maine on board. There is a significant number of illegal immigrants in Maine, but we haven’t, unlike Alabama, been actively fighting for change and accommodation.”
Amnesty International plans to raise awareness on campus through self-education. The club is equipping its members with the knowledge necessary to spread the DREAM Act mission, conducting a week-long simulation of the border crossings and holding guest speaker sessions that will include immigration lawyers from Maine.
Megan Lasher ’15, a member of Amnesty International, believes that the Act should be approved immediately. “I don’t see the other side. Human rights are the most basic of all things. This is the only home they have ever known—the culture, the education systems, everything. They are American citizens,” she said.
With regard to the misconception that this act will create loopholes and cause illegal immigration levels to increase, Amnesty International reiterates that this is not an “all-amnesty” act. This means it will only grant legal citizenship to children who have been in the U.S. for five or more years. Sydney Maisor ’15 said, “These children are not to blame [but are] punished by being denied access to higher education. Most of them were brought here by their parents and probably had no idea of where they were going and could not consent or refuse.”