LatinaLista — No one is expecting those members in Congress who voted against the DREAM Act to suddenly be enlightened in 2011 that passing the DREAM Act and/or immigration reform are actually in the best interest of the country.
In fact, it’s assumed — from the White House to the grassroots level — that the conservatives in Congress will ratchet up their hardline approach and try to get more punitive/enforcement only-type bills passed.
But before they start doing that, there are five things they should stop to consider could happen to the country as a result of their actions.
1. Not passing the DREAM Act, affected more than the handful of students brave enough to don cap and gown, expose their legal status and huddle in the office lobbies of some senators. Failure to pass the DREAM Act impacted 1.9 million young people.
A good majority of these young people are high achievers and were Valedictorians and Salutorians of their high school classes. Seeing that the DREAM Act won’t get passed and realizing that their hopes for an education are dwindling may spur some to find a way to go to college out of the country — or even return to a country they no longer know but where they have an opportunity to attend college.
While critics would congratulate themselves for achieving their goal – sending these young people back to their native countries – the consequences of such an action need to be considered seriously.
Here are young people schooled in every aspect of the American system, from kindergarten to 12th grade and even college, and they would be taking that knowledge, plus a good dose of resentment of the United States, back to wherever they go.
It will take time but chances are these young people will eventually excel in spite of the United States and it wouldn’t be surprising if they achieve even greater things to spite the U.S.
Improbable? Who knows but it’s a scenario that in these times when the U.S. is falling behind other industrialized countries in math among young people and global competitiveness that such a seemingly far-fetched possibility must be taken seriously for the future viability of this country.
If Congress decides not to take up the issue of Immigration reform in 2011, there are certain consequences that are literally on the doorstep of possibilities that could happen and impact the national security of this country, the political influence of both parties and the safety of Latinos throughout the nation.
2. If Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform and officially identify the undocumented immigrants who have called the United States home for the past several years, there is a great risk that the country will lose a handle on who these immigrants are versus the new ones expected to stream across the border when violence worsens in Mexico.
As of now, Mexican migrants, and others, leaving their countries due to cartel violence, are doing so in an orderly way and asking for asylum upon their arrival. But it won’t be long before people will be forced to charge across the border looking for safety from the rampant violence in Mexico.
The potential for this to happen can be traced back in not only U.S. history but the family histories of most Mexican-Americans whose grandparents or great-grandparents fled the Mexican Revolution to come to the U.S.
At that time, the vast majority of Mexican migrants crossed legally but because of today’s prevalent xenophobic attitudes, there’s no chance that these people will be allowed to cross legally to flee the violence. If that’s the case, there won’t be the orderly or respect for the law that asylum seekers are now practicing and the new population of immigrants will mix with the old and the problem will appear far worse than it is today.
3. Immigration reform needs to pass so that the business of identifying the true threats to national security can be realized. Right now, there is a great distortion purposely being orchestrated as to who is responsible for violence along the border. The idea is that if illegal immigration is lumped together with the drug cartel violence then there will be a substantial fear in legislators who will vote against fair immigration reform.
4. If Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform, then more states will take it upon themselves to follow Arizona’s lead to mandate immigration measures within their borders. The danger of such bills are multi-fold:
a. It emboldens people to take the law into their own hands and could lead to physical confrontations between community residents.
b. It creates a sense of mistrust between the Latino community and law enforcement and between community residents with non-Latino residents suspecting that every Latino who fits the stereotype image is an undocumented resident.
c. It leads to mass exodus of the undocumented from economically fragile communities forcing businesses, real estate and schools to suffer loss of revenue.
d. It creates an atmosphere of condoning racial profiling.
5. If Congress fails to pass immigration reform and/or the DREAM Act, politics will take on a new meaning for the Latino community. It will no longer mean supporting the Anglo base within each party but to actively promote and vote in Hispanic candidates — even if it means crossing party lines to vote for Hispanic candidates.
If some members of Congress continue to totally disregard and dismiss the concerns of the Latino community, the payback will be removing them from office and replacing them with candidates who can represent both the larger community and be responsive to the Latino community as well — something very few of the current crop of politicians seems to have the political will to do.