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‘What Will You Do After Graduation?’

Written by Southern Poverty Law Center on 25 March 2010.

This time of year, high school seniors around the country answer that question on a daily basis. Most can offer a ready—and truthful—answer. They're heading off to college, joining the military, starting out in a trade.

But about 65,000 will not be able to answer so easily. For them graduation speeches proclaiming that "today is a beginning, not an end" will ring hollow. Graduation is the end for them. They are the children of undocumented immigrants. These young men and women have lived in the United States, perhaps for most of their lives. They've gone to school here. Like their fellow students, they've played sports, taken the state tests, worked at part-time jobs and been urged by their teachers to aim for the stars.

 

Except they're legally barred from most of the paths that would lead them to better lives, or even to legal status.

The DREAM Act, currently before Congress, offers ways—through military service or college attendance—for these young people to become legal citizens. (DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors.) This proposed law gives all of us a chance to benefit from their talents. Introduced in March 2009, the bill has more than 100 representatives and 33 senators as co-sponsors.

In the true civil rights tradition, advocates are marching, holding rallies and urging the undocumented to "come out" to mark the one-year anniversary of the bill's introduction.

Educators change the world every day, but usually one student at a time. Here's an opportunity to help open choices for thousands of students. Sign a petition supporting the DREAM Act. And, if your senator or representative isn't already a co-sponsor, call and urge them to do the right thing.