This will be the last DREAM Now Letter to Barack Obama because, as you probably have seen, he came out strongly for the DREAM Act this week, saying:
“And the Senate’s going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. In the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be again. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform.”
The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act, and ended on Wednesday, September 15, with the full support of Barack Obama.
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Laura López and I am an undocumented resident of Napa, California. My parents brought me in 1989 to provide for me the American Dream. I was a year and eight months old. The plan was that they’d work and I’d study and go to college. Our hard work was supposed to merit us the American Dream. But my merit would be questioned for a lack of legal documentation.
In 7th grade I joined Talent Search, a community college program promoting higher education. With them I planned my high school classes based on the track towards the University of California. I worked hard through the honors courses and passed the Advanced Placements tests. I completed community service hours with the honor society and competed with the dance team in San Diego, Reno, and Disney World. I did it all to get to college. As a senior in high school I learned of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26: “Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”. I believed it then, and I believe it now.
I merited the acceptance letters and chose Santa Cruz. But my high school counselor and Talent Search mentor did not mention that if you are undocumented, you must file the Assembly Bill 540 Non-resident Tuition Exemption Form or pay out-of-state tuition. Perhaps it didn’t cross their minds that I could be undocumented and that AB540 was a determinant factor in my American Dream. Although I had lived in the same town for all but a year of my life I could be considered a non-resident student if weren’t for that bill. If it weren’t for late Assemblyperson Marco Firebaugh bill, I could not have afforded college; I would not have graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies, Cum Laude, and a minor in Legal Studies. But, you may be asking Mr. President, what of life after college as an undocumented graduate with honors? Without a pathway to legalization, no merit of mine seems to matter. I have a great degree with which I could help the ever growing Latino population (citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented folks), but I cannot use it. I cannot get a job. Don’t get me wrong, I love volunteering because it is necessary, but I need a job.