You may have seen the ads, heard the positions and perhaps dismissed the DREAM Act as a "backdoor amnesty." Now, with the approaching Congressional vote, it is time for us to reconsider its impact locally.
The DREAM Act -- which would provide an earned path toward citizenship for current undocumented students in the nation -- is the best first step to reform our broken immigration system because it makes economic and moral sense.
According to a report by the University of California at Los Angeles's North American Integration and Development Center, passing the DREAM Act would allow an estimated 2.1 million students to contribute $3.6 trillion over the next 40 years, not to mention the significant return on investment in youth that the public school system educates in their K-12 years.
The DREAM Act is a simple idea. We've already educated these talented students, who were brought into the U.S. at a young age by their parents. Now they want an opportunity to use their skills and give back to Walla Walla. Why not get something back from them as working, taxpaying adults?
However, Walla Walla needs the DREAM Act beyond economic reasons. These students have successfully gone through the Walla Walla education system. Perhaps they started at Green Park, Sharpstein or Blue Ridge, either Garrison or Pioneer and have or will graduate from Wa-Hi.
They have surpassed the expectations that we have told them time and time again: if you work hard, anything is possible. But now what?
We need to stop with the separatism in our society; let's begin in Walla Walla. These talented, hardworking and deserving students are American even if they lack a nine digit number. The students that would qualify for the DREAM Act have learned our culture, language, and ideals.
They are our remarkable athletes, our star students, and our indefatigable community volunteers.
They are our children's best friends, boyfriends, girlfriends; they are us.
It doesn't make sense to deny these American students, regardless of their immigration status, the opportunity to give back to Walla Walla and our nation. There was a time when politicians on both sides of the aisle recognized the waste of not letting them give back to the country where they were raised and educated.
Therefore, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers should join both our senators and vote "yes" on the DREAM Act.
Ariel G. Ruiz