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Dream Act

Support the Dream ActBy now, most people have probably heard of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). The law is meant to provide a path to citizenship for illegal aliens who came here as minors. Those undocumented immigrants who served in the military or went to college would be granted permanent resident status, and could later follow on to try to become citizens.

I very much like this idea. Children should not be held accountable for the crimes of their parents. And when parents bring their children with them into the country illegally, it is definitely the parents committing the crime. Those children that grow up here know no other way of life but this one. And the DREAM Act was specifically targeting those immigrants who would most likely to become productive members of the economy.

Now, Republican Senator Mark Rubio is touting his own alternative to the DREAM Act, which apparently has some differences from the bill that was put before the Senate in 2009. What I've heard most on the news is that Rubio didn't like that the original DREAM Act provided a direct path to citizenship, while his alternative would only grant them permanent residence status. Now, whether it's a case of Rubio misrepresenting the original DREAM Act or a case of bad reporting, I'm not sure, but the original DREAM Act didn't lead directly to citizenship. I've checked the first place of lazy researchers, Wikipedia, as well as DreamAct.info. The DREAM Act would only grant permanent resident status. (Or maybe I'm just doing my research poorly.)

Personally, I'd like to see something that lead more quickly to citizenship, but limiting it to permanent residency seems like a reasonable compromise to me. It allows those children who grew up and were raised in this country a chance to seek citizenship without the threat of being exported to a country they barely know.

In my life, especially since I've moved to Texas, I've met many people who came to this country illegally. Most of those people I know were brought here by their parents while they were still very young - before they'd even started school. They're every bit as much a product of and a part of American culture as I am. They themselves did nothing wrong. The only difference is that they just happened to be born a little further south than me. Most of those people that I know have since become legal residents or citizens, but it was a more difficult process than it should have been, and they were under constant threat of deportation. In fact, some of them, as elementary school children, would take a packed suitcase with them to immigration hearings about once a year. Had they been deported, they wouldn't have been allowed to return home, so their suitcases were all they would have been able to take with them.

Unfortunately, even permanent residency for people committed enough to serve in the military, or gifted enough to graduate from college, is too much to ask of some Republicans. It's true that some members of the GOP, such as Rubio, are supportive of ways to keep such people in this country, but Boehner has already come out and said that he didn't think even Rubio's watered down version of the law had a chance to be passed due to Republican opposition.

To put a personal face on this issue, here are a couple stories of people who were brought here illegally as children, and then went on to be exactly the types of people you'd want to stay in this country.

  • Jose Godinez-Samperio - Came to the U.S. when 9, Eagle Scout, high school valedictorian, completed college and law school on a full ride, passed the bar exam - not accepted by bar due to lack of immigration papers
  • Daniela Pelaez - Came to U.S. from Colombia when she was 4, high school valedictorian with 6.7 GPA, accepted to Dartmouth - ordered to be deported but received a 2 year reprieve

I really just can't understand the opposition to keeping productive members of society in this country due to the crimes of their parents.

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