In last night’s GOP debate in South Carolina, Mitt Romney once again promised that, as President, he would veto the Dream Act.
I’ll admit that I find opposition to the Dream Act incomprehensible. I was really disappointed when Dick Lugar responded to the rightwing challenge from Richard Mourdock by withdrawing his long-time sponsorship of that measure. And I am constantly surprised and disheartened by those who are so rabidly anti-illegal-immigration that they see nothing wrong with punishing children for the acts of their parents.
The Dream Act would provide (conditional) permanent residency to undocumented residents of “good moral character” who graduate from US high schools, arrived in the US as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they complete two years in the military, or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they can obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within that six year period, they may qualify for permanent residency if they have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or has completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, received an honorable discharge.”
People for whom illegal immigration is a high-priority issue almost always defend that position by insisting that it isn’t the race or ethnicity of the people involved–that it is a question of rewarding law-breaking. Okay, I get that. But if the point is to punish those who break the law, why punish children who made no such decision, who had no choice in the matter? Most of these children know no other home but America, speak no language but English, and want nothing more than to be contributing citizens. It is heartless to insist that they must be deported to countries with which they are totally unfamiliar.
Not to get all biblical about it, but why visit the sins of the fathers on the children?
Why crush their dreams?