Keeping A Progressive Eye on Immigration Reform: DREAM

Dream Act

I don’t have the wherewithal to report the crucial information I think all American citizens should know.

So I have to limit myself.

I think about the endless politics of the health care so-called “debate.”  What American citizens are being asked to settle for by both our representatives, the Democratic Party, and all the party activists thereof.

Compared to the uphill battle to pass the Dream Act, wow, we’re being offered pure HCR paradise.

Luckily I found some writers with the wherewithal to report this crucial information.  Lets Breakthrough has my undying gratitude for this excellent diary, “Obama meets Senators on immigraiton as undocumented dreamers come out of the shadows”).  The other fine post is from The Sanctuary, Erin Rosa’s Weekly Diaspora: Immigration Opponents Take a Turn for the Worse.

As citizens, many of us believe we are being offered legislation by our supposed representatives equivalent to a shit sandwich.

Imagine, if you will, living in the United States, not a citizen by virtue of your undocumented parents bringing you here when you were too young to make your own decision, and being an activist for justice.  And the justice you are asking for is to go to school without being deported.  In return you’re willing to pay fines, join the armed services, maintain the kind of virtuous character that US citizens rarely if ever exhibit.

Shit sandwich is starting to look pretty tasty.  (ewww, ok, now I’ve grossed myself out and will immediately stop using that simile).

That’s what the Dream Act is about.  It’s one part of immigration reform that in a sane world would have no opposition.  But we are in the world of … well, wherever we are in the world of.

Again, this Act refers to those undocumented US residents who were brought here as children and who have lived their lives here.  In some cases they didn’t even know they were “illegal” until they tried to, say, get a driver’s license.  In other instances they did know and have spent their lives under a shadow of fear for both themselves and their family.  Some of these people have been separated from their families and deported to countries where they don’t even know the language.

They now are courageously coming out of the shadows and demonstrating, marching in a series of demonstrations that will culminate in an overall immigration reform march (March for America: Change Takes Courage) in D.C. on March 21, the first day of spring.

One very gratifying aspect of the DREAM Act part of the march is that it was inspired by the gay rights movement.  As well, progressive pro-migrant activists are also working hard to make LGBT partners as eligible for the benefits of having citizen spouses as heterosexuals.

Lets Breakthrough ends her/his excellent post:

The pressure mounting on Congress seems to be yielding some results. Three grassroots meetings are slated for today, ones that we hope will lead to concrete action. At 1 pm, grassroots leaders will meet with senior White House staff. This will be followed by a much publicized meeting between President Obama and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (who are working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill), seen as a move to insert immigration back onto a congressional agenda. And finally, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is also meeting with the President today to discuss health care and immigration.

Should we be holding our breaths?

The odds against comprehensive immigration reform even coming to a debate are astronomical.  The odds of any legislation that is even up to the standard of the present health care insurance give-away bill is equally astronomical.

From another excellent post at The Sanctuary by Erin Rosa, Weekly Diaspora: Rallying the Grassroots, a concise view, I feel, of how advocacy and activism should intersect:

Fed up with Congress and frustrated with President Barack Obama’s brief mention of immigration reform in the State of the Union address, immigrant rights supporters are now organizing around the clock to push legislators to move on reform in 2010. It will not be an easy feat.

Congress is already bogged down with health care reform and a lingering economic crisis. While Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has proposed a bill in the House of Representatives to provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, immigration reform could be doomed for 2010 if it’s not introduced in the Senate by this Spring. Otherwise, it’s very unlikely that Congress will get around to debating the issue by the end of the year.

Aware of these bitter facts-and even more cognizant of the human rights abuses that will continue so long as the status quo is maintained-reform proponents are gearing up for a number of key battles to improve the immigration system.

I probably should have put this at the beginning of the essay, but for some reason I decided not to.

If progressive citizen journalists who are all-around bloggers, not advocates for any one particular issue, don’t find a way to shape this narrative as best we can, and immigration legislation debate does come up, we’re going to be playing catch up to both the Republicans and the Obamacrats, just as we have with health care insurance reform.

And these kids, especially, wow, they know they’ll get next to nothing and they’re risking everything.  I could far more easily join in coalition with them than go to a Coffee Party.

If you have read to the end of this messy essay, I give you my deep appreciation and apologies for the many rough edges.


  1. I assure you that both political parties are trying their

    hardest to formulate talking points. But it really is too difficult to do. Serious Healthcare reform had no strong block of political activists, in fact, the opposite was true. Well, the immigration reform movement does have strong political activists. This makes it dicey for about a dozen senators and a bushel of house members. My guess is that everybody is going to cover for everybody and claim that the time just isn’t right.

    It’s time to get rid of fear for millions working in this country. It’s really not that hard to craft a decent bill, but the teabaggers scare the living shit out of all the republicans and half the democrats. Big business will even be a little nervous, but of course will have their special immigrant categories slipped quietly into any bill.

    I worked on legalizing over a hundred families after IRCA was passed in 1986, and I would be happy to help again.

    But I’d have to change my status back to active with the state bar.

  2. I really, really appreciate your efforts of behalf of the so-called “Immigration Reform” issue (reform — sounds familiar, eh?)  “Reform,” to me, these days, has come to mean how we damage and destroy more peoples in our society.  

    My time has been limited of late, but Immigration, amongst so many other issues, is another one that grates on me heavily.  These immigrant families have all but been destroyed at our hands — raids, here and there, separation of husbands, wives, children, etc.  THESE, and more, are the PEOPLE who bring food to our tables.  These are the PEOPLE who die because they do not have adequate breaks or “down times” from their work, and I could go on and on and on.  

    We have become a despicable nation without a HEART for anyone, here, there or anywhere!

    But, I honestly think that this grandiose effort to rid ourselves of “immigrants” is to make way for Americans, to perform their jobs — ones that they’ve never wanted to perform and for which there is little recompense!  

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