A while back I posted about the series of stories in the Daily Bruin on illegal immigrant students at the university level, and their struggles to access higher education and the opportunities it affords.

Looks like people are deciding to organize to do something about the unfortunate status of these kids, who, more often than not, are for all intents and purposes Americans, many having been here since infancy and knowing no other country as home. A Dream Deferred is a group pushing for legislation to help these kids that are left out in the cold. Check out their video here.

The DREAM Act is proposed legislation to give immigrant children (who were under 16 within the 5 five years before the passage of the law) a special 6 year residency status pending completion of a degree or military service, to be followed by the opportunity to apply for citizenship. (Wikipedia page here).

I agree with the above-linked Alternet article that not only is this an important step in it’s own right, but that it’s important in shifting the terms of the debate, away from xenophobic tirades and towards the issue of realistically and practically solving the problems of the nation’s millions of immigrants.

By fixing public attention on the daily struggles of families to improve their futures by securing a quality education for their children — as familiar an experience to the native-born as to the foreign-born — advocating for these critically important bills will help put the national debate on immigration back into its proper form: as a discussion about working families. Not criminals, not deviants, not foreign nationalists — simply families struggling to achieve a common American Dream.

It’s too bad how often immigrant’s rights advocates gets sucked into these more extreme,nationalist, racist terms of debate. If the focus more on practical issues – like the obvious inhumanity of denying a college education to someone who’s been living here since they were 3 for example – they can shift the debate to their favor.