CSUB student calls for support of DREAM Act

Joey Williams at a Dream Act Rally
Joey Williams, co-chair of UNIR (United Now for Immigrant Rights), leads a rally in support of the DREAM Act on the Student Union patio Sept. 23, 2010.

I’m a graduate student in sociology at CSUB and a youth minister at Believers in Jesus Foursquare Church in Bakersfield. I’m of American Indian (Paiute-Shoshone) ancestry. My parents taught that we are to love one another as ourselves, and this applies to anyone regardless of their legal status. Our immigration system is broken, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy admitted this in his June 2010 town hall meeting. We are in a moral dilemma, because children are brought to our country regardless of their will.

The DREAM Act, standing for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, is a bipartisan bill that would grant legalization to students that reside undocumented in our borders. This bill would provide students that graduate from U.S. high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and have been in the U.S. for least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or a college degree.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, about 75 CSUB students and immigrant rights supporters met at the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield to support the DREAM Act. We were joined by a caravan of students from southern California who are rallying and meeting with elected officials throughout the state this week.

Two weeks ago, I also had the privilege to represent United Now for Immigrant Rights (UNIR) of CSUB in Washington, D.C. from November 16 to 18. There I met with Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois – a champion of immigrants who was about to meet with President Obama when we met. It was agreed among the elected officials that the DREAM Act is a just approach to the immigration issue in the U.S.

I also met with staff members of many representatives from all over the country, and they all said the same thing: “Secure the borders first.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates supports the DREAM Act, as well as Colin Powell, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State. They both have said the DREAM Act will put no strain on border security.

As a man of faith I must act toward this unjust immigration system. We’re a nation of immigrants, and Deuteronomy 10:19 states to be kind to the aliens, because they were once aliens themselves. It’s time to love others as ourselves, and do the just thing. Please join me in supporting the DREAM Act.

— Joey Williams