The term “DREAMers” refers to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children. According to americanimmigrationcouncil.org there are as many as 1.8 million currently living in the country, attending schools and colleges or contributing to the economy by holding down jobs.

The DREAMers couldn’t control how they came into the United States. They did not intentionally break any laws. They did not make a decision to come here. Most importantly, they are thinking, feeling human beings just like us.

DREAMers have been raised in America, but they are not citizens. Their parents, more often than not, crossed the border to give them more opportunities and a better future. America claims to be a “melting pot,” a nation of immigrants. Yet federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have started deporting undocumented immigrants, including a handful of DREAMers.

This hypocrisy is unsettling, and if America really is the “Land of the Free,” then we need to start acting like it.

Why would we punish young people who have done nothing wrong? These people were in no way responsible for their illegal entrance into the country, and most are law-abiding people trying to create their own American dream.

In what context is it appropriate to punish them? To make them live in fear?

We understand that some believe giving amnesty to DREAMers will only encourage more illegal immigration, but that wouldn’t be a problem if obtaining citizenship weren’t as difficult as it is. According to migrationpolicy.org, 48 percent of all immigrants are naturalized citizens.

This leaves 52 percent of the immigrant population undocumented and trying to find their way to citizenship. We expect people who have just entered this country and don’t speak English to take classes and pass a test that more than 80 percent of Americans couldn’t pass themselves.

Approximately 8 million undocumented immigrants are currently in the civilian workforce. This is not the “massive invasion” that President Donald Trump claims it is.

Some Americans will complain that immigrants are stealing their jobs when, in fact, immigrants are getting jobs because they work harder than most and are doing jobs most Americans wouldn’t apply for in the first place.

Since the Great Recession, the unemployment rate has dropped to under 5 percent so there are not that many Americans who can’t find work. The United States is currently begging people with high tech skills from foreign countries to come here to work. Wouldn’t it be better to train America’s young people to take those high tech jobs.

The facts are, DREAMers are working harder than average Americans, so, of course, they are getting jobs. They deserve them.

Since January, families have been separated as ICE agents have started rounding up undocumented immigrants. President Trump said ICE would target criminals, but some of the people who have been sent home were guilty of nothing more than a traffic violation. He also promised DREAMers would have nothing to fear.

When undocumented immigrants bring their children over the border with them it makes the children illegal immigrants as well. Because of the minor protection of DREAMers, when the parents are deported, their children havethe option to leave the country or be taken in by the state. They can be put into crowded and potentially dangerous foster homes.

Some DREAMers have been left alone without a loved one to help guide them through some of the most crucial years of their life. Now they are surrounded by people they don’t know and don’t trust.

It is no secret that Hispanics are the most targeted group of undocumented immigrants, even though they only make up 27 percent of the immigrant population.They are often profiled and accused of being illegal simply because of their skin color.

This blatant racism is a disgrace to America and the values this country claims to uphold. According to the 2012 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people ages 5 or older, more than twice that of 1990.

There are many American’s who expect all Spanish-speaking people to learn English, the hardest language to learn, but they won’t make an attempt to learn Spanish, even though if is the second most spoken language in America.

America is supposed to be a warm, inviting, and prosperous place, yet as we turn more into a fort and less of a country, America becomes less appealing.

Most DREAMers were brought here for a better future. That includes education. When families are torn apart by ICE, it displaces the children and rips them from their education, a vital part in their growing up.

School is hard for all of us, but it is especially hard for DREAMers who have to overcome language difficulties at the same time they are learning math, science and social studies. It is even harder when they live in fear that ICE will come and deport them.

Yes, undocumented students are in the United States illegally, but they have been raised as Americans. They have the same hopes and dreams the rest of us have.

It is time for Congress and the President to pass a DREAMER Act that protects DREAMers

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