Guest Voz: A dishonest debate rages on about the DREAM Act

LatinaLista — In response to the many “concerns” Republican lawmakers have posed that they say prevents them from supporting the DREAM Act, Sen. Harry Reid presented yesterday a new version of the DREAM Act with the changes Republicans have requested.

gutierrez.jpgAmong them are:

  • 10 years of temporary status vs. the previous 6 years
  • Specifically barring DREAMers from access to health care subsidies etc.
  • Age cap is 30 vs. the previous of 35
  • Removal of the language that would have not punished states for providing in-state tuition
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

These petty “concerns” only underscore the insincerity GOP lawmakers have thrown up so far to stall any kind of vote on the DREAM Act. If these changes don’t appease them, then the nation will know for sure that the GOP never had any intention of voting for the DREAM Act.

As Illinois’ Rep. Luis Gutierrez points out in his following op-ed, thus far there has been a dishonest debate in Washington about the DREAM Act and it’s time people learned the facts.

 

By Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

 

The DREAM Act is a smart, targeted, and modest proposal to get immigrant children who were raised in the U.S. headed towards fully integrating into our society.

It would help around 800,000 or so young people get legal immigration status. Only those who are currently present in the US, were brought here before they turned 16 years old, graduated from a U.S. high school, lived in the U.S. for five years and who take steps to earn legal status by attending college or serving in the armed forces, will qualify.

It is common sense that young people who already live here, were raised here, and will most likely spend the rest of their lives here, be allowed to do so within the law.

But nothing is simple when it comes to immigration reform or any public policy change in Washington, no matter how sensible or measured. The opponents of immigration reform are e-mailing their talking points to their base in hopes of flooding Congress with calls.

Their basic argument is similar to a Sharron Angle campaign ad: dark, menacing Mexicans are coming in the dead of night to prey on our families and communities.
Fighting the DREAM Act is your last line of defense to save America as we know her.

But Sharron Angle’s ads — which were, remember, about Senator Harry Reid’s support for the DREAM Act — didn’t work and probably drove more voters to the polls for Sen. Reid than for her.

And yet, I have seen senators, representatives, television personalities, and activists saying the DREAM Act opens a floodgate of illegal immigration giving criminals free rein.

Take, for example this clip of me talking with anchor Bill Hemmer on Fox News Channel a couple of weeks ago. Watch in the clip as my image is moved to make room for images of young men sneaking across the border, scaling a fence, or being led away in handcuffs. The night vision footage adds an extra layer of menace to the visual argument they are making against the DREAM Act and immigration reform.

I guess the folks in the booth that are in charge of the B-roll never got the memo about “fair and balanced” because it happens almost every time the immigration issue is discussed, and not just on Fox.

But this legislation is not accurately portrayed by scary grainy pictures of men scaling the border fence. The DREAM Act does not condone or encourage illegal behavior. It simply addresses reality.

Our immigration system has been broken for more than a generation, we no longer have sufficient or efficient avenues to regulate foreign workers legally, and we would like those who are indeed living and working here to be on-the-books, protected by basic rights, and playing by all the same rules as everyone else.

Those who would benefit from the DREAM Act did what every child does, they followed their parents. They didn’t decide when they were six, seven, or eight years old to come here. Many did not even know they were immigrants or undocumented until they were teenagers applying for driver’s licenses, colleges, or a job.

We do not hold children responsible for the actions of their parents when they were little kids and the DREAM Act is a first step towards setting things right.

These young people are American in language, in culture, and in attitude. The DREAM Act gives them a way to obtain the piece of paper they lack to make official what is already patently obvious: they are Americans.

But don’t take my word for it.

See for yourself what flaming liberals like the Wall Street Journal editorial page or the British conservative magazine The Economist have to say. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants it and so does Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Colin Powell likes it and former Illinois Republican Governor Jim Edgar likes it, too.

And if that isn’t enough, remember what Rupert Murdoch, Bill Hemmer’s boss at Fox News Channel, had to say when he testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on immigration in September.

“America is desperately in need of improving our country’s human capital,” He said. “It is nonsense to talk of expelling 12 million people. Not only is it impractical, it is cost prohibitive… there are better ways to spend our money.”

Mr. Murdoch, I fully agree and hope my fellow Members of Congress hear your words louder than the images they see on your network.

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