“We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.” – President Obama
By Rebecca Acuña, Dep. Political Director for Base Outreach for the Texas Democratic Party
President Obama last night, in his State of the Union address, made his case for the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would allow young people who were brought to this country as children and who have stayed out of trouble to earn a path to legal residency through college or military service. The DREAM Act would help nearly 2.1 million young people who have grown up in this country earn the right to stay in the only country they’ve ever known. Here in Texas, 258,000 students could have the opportunity to adjust their status through the DREAM Act.
Democrats understand the DREAM Act is the epitome of personal responsibility, and that the values it represents are American values. In December 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act, only to have it blocked by Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Only 3 Republican Senators joined Senate Democrats and supported the DREAM Act, giving the bill a majority but not the 60 votes it needed.
Now, every Republican running for president is promising to veto the DREAM Act if given the chance.
Mitt Romney has bragged about his endorsement by anti-immigrant zealot Kris Kobach, calls the DREAM Act a handout, and claims “self-deportation” is an immigration policy. Newt Gingrich says the only type of DREAM Act he’d support is one where it’s okay for immigrant students to risk their lives for this country — but not for them to practice their professions. Rick Santorum opposes any legislation that would fix our broken immigration system and allow people to earn legal status. Republican contenders for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas are tripping over themselves over who hates the DREAM Act the most and who would make life the most difficult for Latinos.
But there is a contrast. Every single Texas Democrat in Congress supports the DREAM Act. A referendum in support of in-state tuition for immigrant students and the DREAM Act will appear on the Texas Democratic Party ballot. President Obama has demanded that Congress send a bill to his desk that will allow young immigrants to earn legal status. The only way to make the DREAM Act a reality is to elect more Democrats and to make sure that President Obama is re-elected.
As for the obstruction by Republicans, immigrant students should take it as a sign that they’re doing something right. Because we know the saying. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. In the fight for the DREAM Act, immigrant students have been ignored, laughed at, and are now being attacked by Republican presidential contenders and extremists on the right. So that means victory is within reach.
Rebecca Acuña is the Deputy Political Director for Base Outreach for the Texas Democratic Party.[Photo By The White House]