By Victoria Bouloubasis

Erin Shigekawa is an N.C. resident currently spending a year in Taiwan working for the U.S. Department of State. We met while volunteering with a local non-profit that promotes health and nutrition in Latina immigrant communities. I was touched that Erin wrote an e-mail to Senator Hagan urging her to support the dream while working thousands of miles away.

Sen. Hagan, these are your constituents asking you to hear them. Thanks for listening to our DREAM. Now it’s time for you, Senator, to ACT. Erin, thanks for sharing your message.

Dear Senator Hagan,

Your website states, “Senator Hagan believes that a quality education is central to individual economic opportunity and sustained American prosperity. ” I could not agree more. I am a life-long resident of North Carolina, constituent and a recent college-graduate. I am now with the U.S. Department of State and next year, I will be able to pursue a masters degree in Health Policy–all because my state and my country believe in my potential as a student and future leader. I consider myself lucky to have attended university in our state, and have faced no barriers to higher education. I cannot imagine my life without the chance to pursue a higher education, and my dream or doing what I can to make the world a better place.

The DREAM Act provides the chance for bright, talented undocumented youth to contribute to our great state by attending college or joining the military. If given the chance, these youth could be our future leaders. As you know, there is immense support for this bill, from faith leaders of the entire state, former Governor Jim Hunt, President Barack Obama, and countless constituents.

Comprehensive immigration reform is important–but it should not be used as a reason to delay real and meaningful reform which can begin this moment. How long will our friends, people who just want to contribute to the country they call home, be forced to wait? The youth waiting for the DREAM Act are just as “American” or “North Carolinian” as I am, and they deserve the right to pursue higher education, improve the state, country and contribute to society. Their lives are in the balance, and waiting around for comprehensive immigration reform, when the DREAM Act is offering a viable option, is irresponsible.

As someone who voted for you, please, please take into consideration the voices of your constituents. The DREAM Act would change the lives of many for the better, all while strengthening our state and our country. Stand up for the DREAM Act.

Erin Shigekawa