Young boy peers into the U.S. from Mexico.

The final days of the lame duck Congress are upon us and Democrats are scrambling to pass significant legislation before ceding their power to an influx of conservative Republicans. The tax cut debate was settled last night, though many democrats were quick to voice their displeasure with the extension of tax breaks to the wealthy. Nonetheless, that was one piece of legislation President Obama was dead set on pushing through now. The second piece of legislation that has caused partisan debate is the Dream Act.

The law that would grant legal residency to undocumented immigrants who arrived before the age of 16, lived in the U.S. for at least five years, graduated from high school and completed two years of college or honorable military service. Essentially, it’s designed to take the unfair burden off of our next generation of scholars or veterans who, by no fault of their own, were brought to the country illegally as young children and have lived in the shadows despite achieving academic excellence.

Alma, an undocumented immigrant, was brought here as a toddler. The couple waited nervously outside Federal Building for the outcome of a deportation hearing.

Why should children be punished for something they had no role in? A child who was carried across the border illegally at age 5,  raised in a loving family, excelled at school and gave to their community should have the opportunity to be a citizen of this nation of immigrants. Further, our country benefits from these students who have endured hardships and know the meaning of perseverance. They have and will contribute to our country the rest of their lives by becoming teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and business owners.

This is not an amnesty. This is an example of humanity. It’s doing what is right in the best interests of all parties involved, including the country as a whole.

As if on cue, the United Nations recognizes tomorrow, December 18th, as International Migrants Day. The 10th anniversary of this day is meant to honor all the immigrants who have contributed to the country. The timing for this day couldn’t be better. I hope Congress pays attention and realizes the best way to honor International Migrants Day is to pass the Dream Act and open the door for the next generation of immigrant success stories. Let’s pave the way for the young kids who had no choice in their legal status to step from the shadows and give back to the only country they call “home.”

Todd Bigelow Photography

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