Danny Yapias supports the main intention of the DREAM Act . He has been working hard at school to do well, with a clear ambition to become an architect. Now he has found that, as an undocumented individual, he would get no support to go to university.
His parents brought him to America fifteen years ago on a tourist visa. When it expired, he became an undocumented resident. He considers himself to be an American. After all, he has lived in New Jersey most of his life and can hardly remember Mexico , the country of his birth. His parents work illegally, his mother at a fast food restaurant, his father as a handyman. Like millions of other undocumented families, as long as they keep out of trouble and don't attract attention, they can live their lives without arousing the interest of immigration officials.
Danny was able to go to school up to 12th grade because of the 1982 Supreme Court ruling that children of illegal immigrants had that Constitutional right. However, as the child of illegal immigrants, he is not eligible for any state financial aid, student loans or grants for a public institution for higher education.
Unlike some states with large immigrant populations, New Jersey has not introduced its own law guaranteeing the right to lower in-state tuition fees to undocumented students. It still operates under the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. So Danny, who doesn't have an official New Jersey address, would have to pay the higher fee. This means the cost of college for Danny could be as much as $10thousand more than it would be for legal residents.
As a child of immigrant parents, and an immigrant himself, Danny reckons education is the surest route for him to become successful in America , so he's very keen for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to be passed soon in the Congress and signed into law by the President. The Act was reintroduced to Congress in November 2005. Danny has decided to promote the act locally to try to maximise its chances of success this time.
If the legislation were passed, Danny could apply for residency after college because he would meet the requirements of the law. He has lived in the USA for more than five years and he entered the country before he was aged 16.
Danny knows that between 50,000 and 65,000 graduates of American High Schools each year are children of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for five years or longer. He feels strongly that the DREAM Act would be a fair way of enabling these graduates to move on and gain a university education, with the real possibility of a future status of citizenship.
Danny considers himself to be an American, and would like to go to college, get a good job, and contribute to American society with his expertise and by paying taxes on the money he earns. He thinks that the DREAM Act would create a powerful incentive for young people in his situation to work hard and stay out of trouble. They would be rewarded with some academic achievement and, with crime reduced, the tax payers would have less to pay.
But Danny is realistic. He knows that, despite its many supporters and bi-partisan support in Congress, the DREAM Act is a controversial piece of legislation that has been before Congress several times.