Social change is inevitable, if not always what we imagine or desire. Attitudes that were widely held a few generations ago are now generally considered inconceivable and ideas currently considered to be way out on the fringe may someday be dead-center in the mainstream. Bold actions taken by a few that most of us would not choose or even understand often open the way for lasting change.
The “n” word was part of a popular vernacular not so long ago. Now, it’s the “i” word. No human being is illegal! The Supreme Court does not use this politically charged term. It is divisive and dehumanizing.
Allowing resident tuition for a high school graduate who has lived in Hawaii for years is NOT a discount; it’s not special treatment. It is simply fair. They ARE residents! The Hawaii DREAM Act will extend the life chance for immigrant students who are undocumented. It will improve our workforce, stimulate the economy, and build a stronger community of the future. Twelve other states have passed similar legislation.
The Hawaii DREAM Act is not a magic answer, but it’s a critical building block in repairing a broken system. Undocumented youth are local residents, often in the only place they’ve ever known as home. They are already contributing members of our society. Rather than punishing youth, we can increase their opportunities.
Hawaii People’s Fund is proud to be among the supporters of Hawaii’s recent Youth Empowerment Summit that led to the formation of a new coalition of young immigrants and their allies. They are calling for classrooms over detention and deportation. We support their right to equal treatment and their struggle for justice. We encourage their participatory activism as a form of citizen engagement and shared responsibility for social change. They are our future leaders.
The individual act of dropping the “i” word can lead a more careful consideration of thought and behavior towards greater inclusion. The collective act of changing policy can lead to a path towards equality and justice. As we have so many times in the past, Hawaii can take the high road on this one. The Legislature should enact the Hawaii DREAM Act.