Crowley: DREAM Act would improve lives of undocumented college students

In 2005, the Immigration Policy Center estimated about 50,000 undocumented students were enrolled in American colleges and universities. That is approximately 0.29 percent of all college students nationwide.

That seems like a small number, but when applying this estimate to the number of students at Syracuse University, 0.29 percent of the student body is roughly 60 students.

Of course, the true number of undocumented students at SU isn’t known. In fact, it is nearly impossible to ascertain without exposing individual students. What’s clear is that there are possibly undocumented students here, as there are nearly everywhere.

As students, it’s easy for us to say that politics doesn’t affect us. Unfortunately, this insular perspective can limit our thinking and deny the complex ways that public policy can change our lives.

Specifically, the proposed DREAM Act — the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — could possibly change the lives of students on our campus.

The DREAM Act, as previously presented in Congress, would address one of the most heinous problems with our immigration policy. Today, children born in another country and brought here illegally by their parents are treated the same as a person who came to the United States of their own volition.

This policy presents many problems. For instance, it is often the case that children will be brought here as infants and raised entirely in America. They appear to be American; they just don’t have a social security number.

The DREAM Act, if implemented, would help these people by providing them a clear and easy path to citizenship. If they are able to complete a tour of duty in the military or finish a college degree, then they’ll be eligible for citizenship, skipping the decade-long process that is typically required of new citizens.

If ratified, the DREAM Act would allow these individuals to become Americans by serving America — granting them the simple dignity of calling them Americans.

One of them might be your roommate from freshman year, or that kid you took statistics with — one might even be your friend.

The Act is only a first step toward a sensible immigration policy, but it could change the lives of so many young people. Like most of us, they don’t care about politics; they care about finishing school and getting a job. This is not something they could easily do under current law.

So, next time you think politics doesn’t affect you look around. You might see the face of a DREAMer.

Colin Crowley is a senior political science and philosophy major. His column appears online weekly. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @colincrowley.


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