Welcome, “Dreamers,” all 1.2 million of you.
That’s how many of you the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service expected to begin signing up for President Barak Obama’s deferred deportation program after Wednesday, Aug. 15, when the application period opened.
To be a “Dreamer,” you must have been brought into this country before you turned 16 and you can’t be over 30. You’ve had to live in this country every day for the past five years. And you must be a high school graduate, hold a GED or be enrolled in higher education.
Maybe you’ve served your adopted country in the Armed Services.
You’ve got to get a pile of documentation together to prove you qualify and filing that proof is going to cost you $465.
You’ve had to be a good citizen to be a “Dreamer.” If you have a criminal record, forget it. You don’t qualify.
We’re calling you “Dreamers” because of the failed Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). The president and Democrats pushed for its passage in 2010, but the GOP generally opposed it, saying permanent immigration reform was needed and not stopgap measures.
Then in June, the president ordered immigration officials to no longer deport you young people, who were brought here illegally by your parents. Your families were just seeking a better life. But they broke the law and came here without going through the formal process.
Your parents were lawbreakers, but few call you criminals. You’re innocent victims of your parents’ illegal actions.
Many of us, the Republicans and many others, didn’t like that the president took it upon himself to give you virtual amnesty, although amnesty without a pathway to citizenship. Give it a couple of years and that will change.
No, we would prefer for Congress to make the laws and not one person in the White House. But politics stalled the DREAM Act, and President Obama said he’s had quite enough of Congress not being able to act.
So although the process may have been flawed and although you’ve been here all along, a welcome is more than deserved.
You’re Americans true and through. You’ve been raised here and love this country as much as anyone with a U.S.-issued birth certificate.
You’re welcome now to get a legal work permit – finding a job in this tough market will be up to you. At least you won’t have to worry about being exploited by someone taking advantage of your lack of legal residency, who wants to pay you less than minimum wage or work you unreasonable hours. You now have full protection under the laws you had reason to fear just a few months ago.
You’ll be able to get a driver’s license and Social Security number legally, which will help you open a bank account. You’ll have every advantage of being a U.S. citizen except for two.
You won’t be able to vote and if you run afoul of the law, you’ll be deported.
But although you can’t vote, you can still participate in the political dialogue. We’ll need your input and good example to further the cause of passing true immigration reform.
There are millions of other people in this nation who came here illegally, and that’s a tough problem to solve. Some are your parents or older siblings and friends.
We’re a nation of laws and can’t just ignore them. And if some kind of blanket amnesty were ever passed into law or decreed by the Administration, what would stop a new flood of illegal immigrants, hoping to someday gain legal status?
We do need more people. A nation has to grow. Birth rates aren’t as high as they were in better economic times. Raising a family is expensive, and many couples are deferring having children while both must concentrate on paying the bills.
Legal immigration could be part of the solution for growth. However, just as you must be determined to be a good, productive citizen to become a “Dreamer,” we should open our borders only to those with the capability of becoming productive citizens.
More people means more tax payers, and our debt levels will need more tax revenues to pay them down. More people also would need more housing and that can take up the slack in foreclosed homes or stimulate more new-home construction, always the leader in past economic recoveries.
This country has the capacity to welcome more immigrants in the future as we now welcome you. But immigration can’t be willy-nilly; it must be regulated and operate under a system of laws.
Congress has the duty to enact those laws, but for now political advantage seems more important than establishing an immigration policy that will serve natural-born citizens and immigrants alike.
The Democrats usually have the advantage over Republicans on immigration issues, but Conservatives are working to turn that around.
Nevada Hispanics, an initiative of American Principals in Action (APA), hosted a town-hall event Aug. 21 in Las Vegas with Alfonso Aguilar, who served as President George W. Bush’s chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship.
President Obama was criticized before the Latino audience, and in television ads run by APA, as overseeing more deportations than any other president since 1892 when recordkeeping began.
You “Dreamers” who speak Spanish may have seen the APA Spanish-language ad. It’s geared, obviously, to erode Hispanic support for the president.
The claim is true, but only if you count the rate of deportation.
PolitiFact.com, a political fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, notes that President Obama has removed 1.4 million people during his 42 months in office. President Bush removed 2 million people. But it took him 96 months to do that.
So President Obama hasn’t removed more than any other president since 1892, but his monthly average is higher than President Bush’s – 32,886 deportations per month for President Obama; 20,964 for President Bush,
But that’s how the immigration reform issue always is discussed: each side trying to get advantage over the other side. Bending the facts is permissible, acceptable and encouraged.
Although you won’t be able to vote until some further action to liberalize our laws get passed, you might as well realize that in politics you’re seldom going to hear the whole truth from either side.
And if you think you will hear objective, provable truth during any political debate, you are a dreamer, indeed.