This past Saturday, the DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), fell five votes (55-41) short in the Senate. This proposed bill, which has been in the works for about ten years now, was blocked by the archaic yawn fest otherwise known as the filibuster. No seriously, our elected representatives failed to push forward a bill that some considered a moderate attempt to fix an otherwise flawed immigration process. You have to keep in mind that we are talking about an age group where many have been raised here for the majority of their lives and consider the US to be their homeland. Now a bit of background information, to be eligible under this bill, there were five main criteria you have to meet before the bill was to have passed:
- Entered the US before 16 years of age
- Graduate high school or obtain a GED
- Have “good moral character” aka no criminal record
- Must have lived in the US for five consecutive years
- Must be between 12 – 35 years of age at the time of application
Now after meeting the above stated criteria, you then have six years to either complete at least two years of schooling in a program geared toward obtaining a bachelor or higher degree in the US (plus be in good standing academically), or perform at least two years of US military service. Then and only then, will you have the chance to adjust your conditional permanent residency to a full US citizenship. Not exactly a free ride or an easy pass to citizenship is it? Imagine if the US government required that all of its young citizens be required to maintain the same standards, but I digress…
A quick search on various popular media sites leads you to endless commentary, some of the more popular questions and comments brought up include ;
“Would this act only further encourage illegal immigration?”
“The money spent on trying to secure our borders, plus the billions we spend every year on them would be better spent on making the South of the border countries more habitable.”
“How does the DREAM Act benefit American citizens?”
I also cannot leave out the endless commentary complaining about the “burden pregnant and unwed teenage Latinas already place on society”. I guess it’s ok for us to support the Caucasian/white teens on MTV’s Teen Mom series ?? The message boards were also filled with complaints (rightfully) of their neighborhoods infested with gang activity and harassment by Latino gangs, (since I guess most people believe this DREAM Act was only for illegal Latinos – its not). However what do those individuals have to do with the DREAM Act? They obviously would not qualify!
There must be something about seeing key words such as immigration, illegal and special rights that brings out such hatred in some people (I’m so shocked – HA). While I would like to believe that all of the commentaries blatantly spewing hate were obviously coming from the “good ol‘ boys”, I was wrong. I read harsh rebuttals from other Latinos, other former immigrants and what can be considered part of your average middle class.
I am certainly no expert on this nor any kind of immigration reform, and I’m not going to try and answer these questions, it better that I leave it to you to do that for yourself. My purpose in writing this post was simply to stir conversations and make you do something (anything) beyond the typical conversations about the RHoATL or changing your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character because it will help end child abuse, even though I have yet to hear any evidence that last part was true (yeah I did it too). So while I am super elated that DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) was finally repealed, I’m still hopeful the US gets on the ball and continues to put policies in effect to eliminate discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship status.
Some links that you may find interesting;
- Basic info on DREAM act http://www.dreamact.info
- Michael Guadalupe talks about how DREAM Act benefits American citizens (found in the comments section) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-michael-bennet/dont-give-up-on-dream-act_b_799390.html Iss tax revenue etc
- NLIRH (National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health) on how this affects immigrant women http://latinainstitute.wordpress.com/
- Washington Post article http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/12/in_1830_congress_passed_the.html