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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should We Pass Dream Act During Lame Duck?

This article was originally published as Should the Dream Act Pass During Lame Duck? on Technorati.


Nevada Senator Harry Reid promised a vote on the Dream Act in the lame duck session. Should you call your senator and ask him to support this legislation?


Laura Lopez speaks to a group assembled by the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition (CIRC) member group Padres y Jovenes in Denver on her way to Washington D.C.  in 2010.  She was arrested during a sit in along with an Arizona veteran Dreamer, Erika Andiola.


The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, (DREAM ACT), introduced in March of 2009, provides a future for children of undocumented workers who were brought to the country against their will. It provides conditional permanent residency status to the students allowing them to attend college or serve their country in the military.

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The conditional status halts deportation and allows youth a chance to come into compliance with the law. The student has six years to comply by graduating from college or serving in the U.S. armed forces. After 6 years, if the student has completed his obligations, then his conditional status changes to permanent resident status. He is still not a US citizen.  This is not amnesty.  However, if the student continues on this path, he may eventually qualify for citizenship.

Anti-immigrant foes support the Dream Act because it is tough but fair.  The child was too young to understand the ramifications of crossing the border without inspection and often came against his will. Some were carried here as young as one year of age, like Laura Lopez. Most have lived in the US nearly all of their lives, speak fluent English, and know nothing of the country of their parents. While the youth understood nagging hunger, how can he be held responsible for an unauthorized border crossing forced upon him by a parent or relative?

A Dream Act student would be able to obtain a driver's license.  This is for the benefit of all citizens and national security.  The student would be identified, a benefit to police during traffic stops.  Part of national security is to identify and obtain the biometrics of all people in the country.  Students would be able to obtain auto insurance, a benefit to all drivers.

Myra Diaz talks about Promise Arizona and the Dream Act


In order to qualify, students must be U.S. residents before the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. for five years which prevents last minute arrivals, be between the age of 12 and 35 at the time of the bill's enactment, graduated from an American high school or received a GED and must not have been convicted of any crimes. Later in the process, the student would need to pay a fine which when totaled could add 3 billion dollars to balance the budget.

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Passage of the Dream Act will require placing partisan politics on hold in the name of justice.  Republican support is critical. Most think confidence was placed in Republican candidates to bring unity and justice to the process and help the country heal.  Providing young people the chance to go to college, serve their country and pay taxes clearly provides a benefit to our economy.  Despite labor shortages, the country still needs nurses, teachers and others, especially in rural areas.

Michael Nezario at McCain HQ

Michael Nazario dreamed of joining the Marines since he was a boy.  His heart was broken  when he found out his immigration status prevented him from serving the country he has lived in since his first memories.  Michael risked deportation by staging a "boot-camp" in front of Arizona Senator John McCain's office.

"I am willing to defend this country as you did" said Nazario.

Some wish to penalize immigrant youth for the errors of their parents even though the youth are innocent themselves.  However, most U.S. citizens would resent being forced to do the same for their own parents.  Others believe the Dream Act should only be passed as part of a larger Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) package.  More likely, insisting on passing both laws at the same time is a way to block the Dream Act, since passage of CIR in the imminent future is doubtful.

Tpaz grafittihe long term solution to immigrant rights in the US is through the ballot box.  Promise Arizona Finding and electing candidates who will pass legislation which reflects the needs of the immigrant community is critical.  Organizations like Promise Arizona made great headway towards this goal.


Until America provides a solution, students, like Michael Nazario, whose life dream is to serve in the Marines, are unable to enlist.  Those who have a gift for learning like Laura Lopez, have doubtful futures. Student groups, educators and those who seek national unity ask you to contact your senator immediately and urge him to support this critical legislation.

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