I came to this country at the age of 3. My family lived in a two-bedroom apartment in a multi-unit brownstone in Jamaica, Queens. My Dad had just graduated from medical school but he drove school buses to make extra money. Like many immigrant parents, my parents saw this country as a land of opportunity for my brother and me.
With hard work, we could grow up to become whatever we wanted to. As children, we had our dreams set on the simple things. When I was 16, that dream was to get a job as a cashier at my local discount store. When I was 18, all I wanted was to go to college, live in a dorm, and attend division one football games to cheer my team on. I had all these dreams and did all of these things not fully understanding how lucky I was that if I wanted them, I had an opportunity to go for it because I could produce a valid Social Security card.
But 10 million young people in this country are not so lucky. They were brought into this country illegally as children. It's not until they grow up and attempt to apply for their first job, or try to enroll in a higher education program, or serve in our armed forces, that they realize that they are in this country without documentation. Not by choice, but by the actions of their parents. Their dreams are shattered and the door to opportunity has closed. The only choice they are given is self-deportation.
As of last week, however, one million of these young people will be eligible for a chance at their dreams. And they have the President to thank for that.
For years, President Obama tried to get the DREAM Act passed. Rather than come up with an alternative solution, Republicans in congress have gridlocked the efforts of the DREAM ACT, which was drafted with bipartisan support. Like many other presidents have in the past, President Obama took action when no action was being taken.
President Obama did what George W. Bush did 291 times -- he exercised his presidential right to issue an executive order to protect these undocumented young people. President Reagan issued 381 and President Clinton issued 364.
As a result of the executive order, approximately one million young people have been been given a “one in a million” opportunity to pursue their dreams. Appropriate limits were placed on the order. To qualify for relief, applicants must have been brought into this country under the age of 15, they must have been here for at least five years, and they must be law abiding.
The executive order is not a temporary solution, but provides temporary relief until a permanent solution can be passed. The relief does not make these individuals eligible for citizenship nor will they receive a resident alien card.
The one million people that can qualify for this temporary status have rightfully been called "Dreamers." By issuing the order, the President Obama has opened the door for these Dreamers so that they can dream as big as they want.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and see what all the bloggers had to say, read What Do You Think of President Obama's Immigration Decision?
Image via USAG-Humphreys/Flickr