Immigrant children deserve a chance
Last Tuesday, the Senate voted to block discussion of the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision to outlaw the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, as well as one to enact the DREAM Act.
Reid should force those senators voting no to do so time and again until they’re faced with withdrawing funding from the Pentagon or doing the right thing for gays and lesbians and for immigrant students.
The DREAM Act would enable young people who came into the United States as children without proper documents to legalize their status and to prove themselves. It would give them a six-year temporary residency, during which they could choose to either go to college and obtain a degree or serve at least two years in military services.
It would help out our struggling military services by opening up a new pool of recruits. It would help the government by bringing contributing members of society out of the dark and into fully documented status. Most of all, it would help the “minors” named in the Act itself, by giving them the opportunity to make something of themselves.
The DREAM Act is not amnesty.
That implies that the children and young adults who fall under its purview are criminals, instead of victims of circumstance. They didn’t make the decision to enter the United States without the proper documents, and minors can’t legitimately be held responsible for decisions their parents made. And since they have lived their lives in the United States, many of them would be more out of place in the countries of their birth than they are here.
This should easily be one of the least controversial proposals in immigration reform today. But some Republican senators object to it.
Because they want to draw support from their conservative constituents who are anti-immigrant and who want to make this an issue of “us versus them.” But the “them” are children who have grown up here. They are your daughter’s best friend, your nephew’s first date, your grandchild’s first slumber party pal.
The political grandstanding by opponents of this legislation is most obvious when looking at the inconsistent words and actions of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cosponsored the DREAM Act not just once, but in three separate years: 2003, 2005, and, most recently, in 2007. Now he’s against it.
That kind of flip-flopping is disgraceful.
We need to give all our young people a chance. And that means allowing immigrant children to join in an America that has too long kept them in the shadows.
. Reprinted from the Progressive Media Project (www.progressive.org).