There seems to be a small yet still very tragic phenomenon amongst college students, one that has existed for quite some time yet has not hit so close to home till recently. The story seems to follow the same sort of template: A college student has spent the majority of his/her life in the U.S. only to learn much later (usually when they’re a teenager or already in college) that they are currently illegal aliens. Various stories across the country have followed this formula. In 2010, Steve Li was sent to a detention center after both he and the authorities found out about his illegal status. He was hoping to one day start a medical clinic for the immigrant community. Eric Balderas was a student at Harvard University when his illegal status was divulged. He faced deportation but luckily he was the triumphant party in his case. There are numerous other cases, each describing college students who did not willfully commit any crime being put on the same level as real criminals.
Nadia Habib is a matriculated student of our very own Stony Brook University and has recently started to combat this flaw in the immigration system. She had not realized that she was not a legal resident until she attempted to qualify for financial aid and found out that she lacked the necessary identity papers. Immigration officials attempted to deport both her and her mother to Bangladesh (their country of origin), but the pair has gained a reprieve for at least the next three months.
While Nadia’s father and three other siblings are here legally she and her mother have not been able to obtain legal status yet. If she and her mother had been sent away it would have effectively broken their family, since the father and other children would have remained here. Immigration and Customs Enforcement let the Habibs go while their case is being reviewed, and will meet with them again in three months. It is deeply unfortunate that Nadia has been put through and will inevitably have to undergo even more difficulties because of actions that were taken without her consent or active participation. Needless to say she found herself with many supporters during her bid to stay in the USA. This clearly indicates that the law is not taking fairness into account, and a large number of people definitely realize it.
Nadia’s situation, as well as the similar plights faced by many other college students, display an obvious need for the the DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). This legislative proposal would essentially allow law-abiding students to remain in the country until they are able to obtain legal residency. However, the bill remains blocked in Congress. However, the Obama administration did recently promise to review 300,000 pending deportation cases. They would then permit some immigrants like the Habibs – who are law-abiding and have family in the U.S. – to reside here temporarily. While this is a nice thought, it basically acts as a band-aid for the real issue. Reviewing present cases and filtering through them to see what qualifies and what doesn’t acts as a temporary solution. Putting the DREAM Act into effect would provide a long-term solution since there would be clearly outlined guidelines and regulations that could be followed.