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Editorial: The Dream Act re-evaluates priorities

On September 12, 2011

In tough times, we have a humanistic responsibility for each other's well-being. A good person will show compassion no matter what the circumstances.

But sometimes the circumstances are not so ideal. One of the main problems with discussions about "illegal aliens" is that it inevitably seems to turn into a discussion of diversity or racism. When we say we're concerned about undocumented students at Sonoma State, its not because they are of a different race, background or culture.

It is because the CSU was created to serve its California residents. Our tax dollars support CSU and UC schools allowing for a "lower" in-state tuition.

Luckily for us, the Dream Act only allows undocumented students to receive the financial aid allowed to them after permanent residents have received aid.

It seems like an odd time to be aiding the education of immigrants when education of our own is in such jeopardy. If the state feels that it has money to aid undocumented students, why don't we have money for our residents, many of whom are now unable to afford college?

However, like many things, it is not as clear cut as we like to think. We must stop the familiar mantra, "We want our money," and realize there are problems bigger than our own SSU fee statements.

Many immigrants came to America when they were children without a choice. Who is to say they should be held back? These are students who often are faced with language, culture and social barriers. In a sense, many are more qualified than residents for the state aid. The law even requires the student to have attended at least three years of high school, giving them the necessary preparation.

No matter what a person's circumstances are, an education increases their chances of success and giving back to society and stimulating our economy. That is something we all want for ourselves and our peers, regardless of background or circumstances.

Then again, the reality of the Dream Act is that the law is unlikely to ever be utilized. With a shortage of state aid as it is, the undocumented students who would have benefited from this policy may never see it come to fruition. Residents are struggling to receive the aid that is entitled to them, and the "aliens" will have to wait in the wings.

Why do we pass laws like this? So the government can take a positive stance on immigration? Or at least appear to?

Fortunately for us, college has made us smart enough to see through that.

Human kindness can only go so far. Americans have been trying to save the world for a long time, when the majority of our problems lie within our own borders. If we don't rebuild education from the inside-out, laws like the Dream Act are pointless.

We need to come up with solutions to these problems that will actually make a difference. Our government cannot slack off on the tough issues with laws like the Dream Act. 

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