The DREAM Act: An Urgent Call for Unity

For most of us, the place where we grew up – more so than the place we were born – holds a special place in our hearts. It’s the place we think of when we think ‘home.’ We don’t get to choose where we grow up, any more than we get to choose what family we are born into. But we love our hometowns, just like we love our families, even when they don’t always treat us right.

The children of undocumented immigrants didn’t have a choice in where they would grow up. Their parents made the decision for them. But most children of undocumented immigrants who grow up in the U.S. love their hometowns and this country, even though we don’t treat them right.

What is the DREAM Act?

The DREAM Act would give children of undocumented immigrants who grew up in the U.S. a chance to earn legal resident status in the country that means home to them. First, the law would allow a young person, after completing high school, to apply for “conditional permanent resident status.”

This status would allow the law-abiding son or daughter of undocumented immigrants to work, go to school, get a driver’s license, and go about his or her daily life without fear of being picked up and deported to a land they may not remember. Second, a young person with conditional residency who completes two years of college or a vocational program, or serves two years in the U.S. military, would qualify for unrestricted permanent resident status.

This is legislation that makes sense. It’s only a small step towards immigration reform, but it’s the least we can do for young people who consider themselves part of our family.

Who’s for the DREAM Act?

Public support for the DREAM Act is high, and it’s bipartisan. According to a poll commissioned by child advocacy group First Focus, it’s around 70%. President Obama supports it. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Black Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Caucus support it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, and former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell support it. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association support it, as do a vast number of universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Columbia, and Stanford.

Who’s against the DREAM Act, and why?

This bill has been around, in one form or another, since 2001. It’s a bi-partisan bill that’s almost passed several times. But now, Republicans who supported the bill in the past are backing away from it because the Tea Party is opposed to it. In fact, several incoming Tea-Party backed Republicans not only oppose the DREAM Act, but want to introduce a bill to change the Constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. of undocumented immigrants.

The Tea Party is riling up their base to fight the DREAM Act and any legislation that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. They characterize the DREAM Act as an attempt to “steal” citizenship. They are playing on racist fears, labeling undocumented immigrants AND their children as criminals who only want to import drugs and commit rape and murder on (white) American citizens. And of course, they are very vocal in denying that their motivation is racist.

Why is it urgent to pass the DREAM Act now?

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised the Hispanic community that he would work for passage of the DREAM Act and for immigration reform. But as the 2010 election cycle approached with no progress on this or any measures toward immigration reform, the Hispanic community very rightly began to remind the President of his promise. Why should we support Democratic candidates, many asked, when the Democratic party has not shown that they are willing to work on issues that matter to us?

President Obama reached out to ask for the trust of the Hispanic community, and pledged that the DREAM Act would come to a vote before the end of this year. Sen. Harry Reid made the same promise to his constituents in Nevada, and it’s well-acknowledged that it was the Hispanic vote that saved his Senate seat, and saved the Democratic majority in the Senate. So it’s not just President Obama and Sen. Reid that owe it to the Hispanic community to pass this bill. We ALL have an obligation.
And it’s in our best interest.

The Democratic Party needs Hispanic voters, and needs to show the Hispanic community that we are not just talk. We need to show them that we deserve their trust, their support, and their votes. Passing the DREAM Act would also send an important message to the next Congress, that unlike the party of NO, the Democrats still know how to get the business of our country done.

It will increase the power of the President and Congressional Democrats. It will make it easier to defend the attacks on Health Care Reform, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to end tax cuts for millionaires, to extend unemployment benefits, and to pass legislation on the environment, job creation, and educational reform.

How can we help?

Tell President Obama and your Congressmen of BOTH parties that you support the DREAM Act. Tell them that law-abiding children of undocumented immigrants shouldn’t have to live in daily fear of being picked up and deported. Tell them that motivated, and educated young people are assets to our country, and deserve an opportunity for legal status. And tell them now, because the DREAM Act may come to vote in the House this week.

Want to know more?

Read the National Immigration Law Center’s ” Five Things You Should Know about the DREAM Act.”

13 Replies to “The DREAM Act: An Urgent Call for Unity”

  1. Welcome Janice! What a lovely debut piece this is on the DREAM act. Really well done. We’re so glad to have you aboard:-)

  2. Why would anyone not support this? You point out the reasons, but I mean, WHY? The Republicans seem to forget we are nation of immigrants. Great post. Thanks. Am sharing.

  3. Of course the Republicans are against it NOW. Are they For anything other than tax cuts for the top 2%? I remember back in the day when they actually tried to pass legislation for this country. No more.

  4. I’d like to add that the very first White House Summit on Community Colleges was held 05 Oct 2010 and this was widely discussed and supported.

  5. Yes…a lovely fluff piece describing how we should not only allow, but endorse, illegal behaviour.

    It does, however, reveal the disingenuous nature of politics…especially those of the left. Develop a dependent class, and they will vote for you forever. See ‘Union’s’, ‘The Elderly’, more recently prescription drug recipients.

    The model is the same…find a ‘victim’, ply them with money, and reap the votes.

    Eternal Rome weeps :(

  6. I guess you can just ban my posts Sarah, since you’ve deleted enough already.

    It’s obvious that you’re looking for the same echo chamber that the modern media promotes.

    I won’t apologize for shining the glaring light of reason on rather pathetic partisanship.

  7. Well, other than the fact the parents are here illegally. The children are here illegally.

    The fact they cost in civic services, without paying a nickle.

    The fact we pay for border enforcement and deportation to remove illegals from the country.

    The fact illegals depress the wages of legal citizens.

    No, I guess you’re right…they are totally deserving of our blood and treasure….I know, right?!

  8. Well, the a very simplistic response to this is: Tell me what social programs were in place when the mighty Statue was erected?

    I’ll clue you in: There was no social security…no unemployment, no welfare. There sure as hell was no medical insurance. When immigrants came to the new world, they needed to provide for themselves.

    If you would tell the American people today that immigrants would receive NO government funding for anything, nor would their children, or their childrens children until they officially filled the federal coffers…I think you’d find little resistance to any immigration.

    But hey, keep trying to find new voters to buy.

  9. And yet your post is still here. What magic falls by night, magic teabagger? Oh, hark, it’s Paranoia Posse.

  10. You are so right…posts are never edited on this amazingly intellectual website.

    It doesn’t seek any sort of actual debate…it really seeks the same, rather lame, echo chamber that most of the main stream media websites find.

    Isn’t that why you’re here?

    You want people saying ‘Hells YA! Obama Rox0rs!’…despite his wide spread rejection by the American electorate( which is now wide spread racist, despite electing a black man ).

    As a libertarian, I’m not afraid to debate left or right on the merits of freedom…and freedom from government intrusion is among those rights.

    If you want to debate realistically…you need to part with such pathetic pay back schemes:

    :The Democratic Party needs Hispanic voters, and needs to show the Hispanic community that we are not just talk. We need to show them that we deserve their trust, their support, and their votes. Passing the DREAM Act would also send an important message to the next Congress, that unlike the party of NO, the Democrats still know how to get the business of our country done. ”

    Stop finding niche markets to exploit…try to debate rationally, not racially.

  11. It is important that Republicans support the Dream Act.
    there are a lot of young people waiting foa an opportunity to demostrate that they would work hard for this country

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