George and Philomena Hamilton bought a business in Tampa, Florida, in 2006 to come to the United States from Scotland on an Investor Treaty Visa. They brought with them their daughter, Rebecca, who had just turned twelve, hoping for a better education for her. Being in Florida from such a young age, Rebecca grew up fully assimilated with American culture; supporting American sports teams, learning the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, referring to America as ‘home’, and even speaking with an American accent. Knowing the lengths her parents went to in order to provide her with the best opportunities possible, she never took her education for granted. Throughout middle school and high school, she took countless honors classes along with many AP and IB college courses, always making straight A grades, and graduating as Salutatorian of her school’s IB program. These accomplishments helped her gain a full-ride scholarship worth over $200,000 to Rollins College, where she is currently a sophomore in the Honors Program with a 3.93 GPA. But when she graduates in May of 2015, her F1 visa, along with her “American Dream”, will expire and Rebecca will face deportation back to Scotland because there are currently no pathways to permanent residency or citizenship for immigrants in her situation.
There are thousands of other immigrants like her who are due to be given a path to citizenship through what is known as the “Dream Act”. This act is part of the new Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill proposed by the Senate “Gang of 8” on Wednesday, April 17th. It allows for immigrants brought to this country as children who pursue higher education or serve in the military a chance to apply for a green card and stay in America. Rebecca meets all requirements except for one; she was brought to this country legally. As the bill is currently written, only those children brought to the country without documentation will be allowed to stay under the Dream Act upon completing their higher education, while those here on legal visas will be forced to leave the place they call ‘home’.
It is a moral imperative to include legal immigrants in the Dream Act. Failing to do so will not only export thousands of talented, American-educated young minds to competing countries, but also sets a double standard by punishing those who came to this country legally, while rewarding and encouraging undocumented immigration.
Please sign this petition asking The House of Representatives to include legal immigrants in the Dream Act and let immigrants like Rebecca stay in our country as hard-working and productive members of American society.