Pass the DREAM Act, now

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by Eric Mar and Eric Quezada

news@sfbg.com

OPINION Imagine for a moment that you are 14 years old. Your parents, stuck in perpetual poverty and unemployment (or perhaps worse), move your family to a foreign country to begin a new life.

You work hard, struggle to fit in, study constantly, and fill your spare time with school activities. Maybe you even work a little on the side to chip in. You are a parent's dream, and a model of young citizenship.

Except that you're not a citizen. And one day, even as you've mastered English and flourished in school and in the community, you are stopped like a criminal by federal authorities.

This is what happened to Steve Li, an engaging and industrious 20-year-old student at City College of San Francisco and a graduate from George Washington High School. He always thought he was an average San Franciscan until the morning of Sept. 15, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents suddenly raided his home and arrested him and his parents. Steve was incarcerated in Arizona for more than 60 days, far from his friends and family. Through a full-court legal and legislative press, and a groundswell of immigrant community organizing leading to a private emergency bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Li has temporarily staved off deportation. But Li and thousands of other hard-working young immigrant Americans could soon be summarily tossed out of the country if Congress doesn't act now to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The DREAM Act is a common-sense, bipartisan measure that is urgently needed to avoid countless other Steve Li cases. Despite congressional wavering on comprehensive immigration reform (which a consistent majority of Americans support), everyone should be able to agree on the basic right of undocumented immigrant minors, who are moved here by their parents, to gain steps toward obtaining citizenship.

In brief, the DREAM Act would enable some immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military.

According to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), about 65,000 U.S.-raised high school students could qualify for the DREAM Act's benefits each year. As NICL puts it, "These include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, homecoming queens, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and U.S. soldiers. They are young people who have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives and desire only to call this country their home ... they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and often live in constant fear of detection by immigration authorities."

It makes no moral, economic, or social good sense to continue tearing apart families and communities and disrupting young people's lives — all at great expense to the American public and taxpayers.

The time to act is now: please call your congressional representatives today and urge them to vote yes on the DREAM Act — without any amendments that might undermine its effectiveness. Although Nancy Pelosi and most Bay Area Democrats support the bill, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) and the Republicans are either on the fence or opposed. There's no time to waste in giving hard-working young immigrant students this most American ideal — the opportunity to make their dreams a reality.

Eric Mar is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Eric Quezada is executive director of Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco.

Comments

Great Article! These students are extraordinary people, who are only asking for a chance, an opportunity, to contribute to the United States. We need as many hardworking hands on board to help move America forward together! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Chun Li on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

Chun Li the United States of America cannot take in every single 3rd world person on the planet. Someone recently said this "You cannot keep pouring into a glass, eventually it spills over". You need to take the education that American citizens worked so hard to provide you and return to your homeland and make changes in your country of origin. The unemployment rate with American college students is in excess of 30% and now you are demanding that we give you the few scarce jobs that are left. Go back to Asia.....that is where our government has allowed American jobs be exported to. You no doubt will have better luck there. It is not a matter of racism. The United States of America is sinking because we give handouts to everyone except their own citizens.
It is the same as someone feeding their neighbors starving children - fattening them up, while their own children are starving at home. When I look at all those poor illegal children - most are literally overweight - which is an interesting comparision to what they are now demanding.

Posted by GuestKatie on Dec. 15, 2010 @ 5:06 am

Thank you for this outstanding article! I agree with everything you've said!

Posted by GuestTami on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

I disagree. What about the thousands of people who wait years to immigrate into this Country legally. They wait outside for many years in with hardships, limited schooling and a limited future. These individuals circumnavigate the law and enter this Country and stay illegally. I say, don't reward them.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

I Disagree 100%.
why the fu**, would we let a bunch of aliens. take school/college. whatever. give them scholarships or whatever. do they at least think of the people who are already in this country/state. isnt it best to take care of home first before the outsider. this will bring a lot of untied states "legal" citizens in unemployment. especially when the aliens are the ones taking the jobs from us. how about they get themselves legalized the proper way. doing this "act" will bring in much more people and all they have to do is go to school to make sure they stay, this is freakin BS..
there are other people who are trying to get in the right way, and the dream act is letting people in who did it the wrong way in. if they get in the wrong way, then they DESERVE to be kicked out the legal way.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

I Disagree 100%.
why the fu**, would we let a bunch of aliens. take school/college. whatever. give them scholarships or whatever. do they at least think of the people who are already in this country/state. isnt it best to take care of home first before the outsider. this will bring a lot of untied states "legal" citizens in unemployment. especially when the aliens are the ones taking the jobs from us. how about they get themselves legalized the proper way. doing this "act" will bring in much more people and all they have to do is go to school to make sure they stay, this is freakin BS..
there are other people who are trying to get in the right way, and the dream act is letting people in who did it the wrong way in. if they get in the wrong way, then they DESERVE to be kicked out the legal way.

Posted by Infuriated Citizen on Dec. 10, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

This is like your parents stealing from the bank and you getting to keep the money. NO. What they did is wrong any way you look at it. You get to reap your parents illegal deeds. Go back and do good to your parents' home land. What this country needs is to grow an backbone to kick out illegals.

Posted by Another infuriated Citizen on Dec. 14, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

...How can you say such a thing when any way u look at it we are the ones that move everything were are not responsible for what our perants. If they put their life at risk to give us a better tomarrow wat makes you think that you can come and take that away from us. If the U.S.A is so called the land of freedom and the land of dreams.Who are you to come and try to take ours right to make our dreams come true..? THE DREAM ACT(YES.!)

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2011 @ 11:41 am

It is reall easy to point fingers say this and that, but it is because of the contribution of many immigrants that this country stands where it stands in the present. Let's recall the contributions of Enrico Fermi in the Manhattan's project he was an immigrant....Edward Teller father of the hydrogen bomb.... Cofounder of Google Sergie Brin... Albert Einstein great scientist well as a matter of fact the best also immigrant... yes, because of these people we don't speak japanese, if it weren't for their "immigrant" contributions this great nation wouldn't be where it is right now....more many of them generate new jobs fo american people lets stop bs and start thinking what is best for this great nation...like Bill Gates once mentioned:"America is an IQ magnet... For generations, America has prospered largely by attracting the world's best and brightest to study, live and work in the US...Our success at attracting the greatest talent has helped us become a global innovation leader, enriched our culture and created economic opportunities for all Americans...." do you honestly think they don't deserve a chance, people pls

Posted by MT3 on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

The reason why the US became a global leader in innovation was because Americans invested in the US through high taxes after WWII and build the academic infrastructure that provided the basis for innovation and wage growth.

That infrastructure, including academic, is actively being disinvested in right now. Domestic population growth is far outstripping academic capacity and that is pricing higher education far out of reach of everyone. In 1980 I was a freshman at UT-Austin paying $225 out the door in-state tuition and fees. Indexed by the CPI that would be $578 today. Current tuition and fees for Texas residents is $8,520 – 9,808. The same thing applies to Cal. This is not a system that can handle added burdens.

Our house is on fire. The wheels are coming off of the American cart. Before we invite more people into the burning house on top of the cart that is losing its wheels, we should probably figure out a way to put the fire out, to put the wheels back on the cart first.

Call me a racist anti-child xenophobe, but "free trade" and the neoliberal notion of universal competition cannot work when only one country lowers barriers. The connection between the most conservative big businesses and immigration reform cannot be swept under the rug. The goal of immigration law in the US is to drive down wages, and that is not in the interests of Americans.

Until immigration reform advocates give equal footing to American workers by fighting the H1-B visa program that is intended to drive down domestic tech wages and has succeed beyond anyone's wildest dreams, then while I will not oppose the DREAM Act, I'm not going lift a finger to help pass it.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Mar. 03, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

Such ignorant people, they act as if they don’t know the history of the United States and the thousands of people (Native people), Europeans killed, just to still their land and goods. The Natives help you, took you in and you took over, murdering many. Latinos, Asians and many undocumented people are not ALIENS, they are people like you and me, that no matter how the land is divided, they as people deserve to flourish and live a life of freedom and opportunities. Whites would like to keep the power on their side and they are afraid to give an education to colored people because they know what that means. Educated people have power, and they can over throw their unjust capitalism that has been a part of this country since European stepped on this land. Give everyone an Education, as you were given one. They are not taking your jobs, if you are not a professional, or if you are not good at what you do, that is your fault, no one is taking your job, don’t be mad because colored people are better than you at what you want to be or do, educate yourself and challenge yourself to be better than the person next to you, don’t discriminate, appreciate your fellow men and women because that is what make our country strong and beautiful. Si se puede! Yes on the Dream Act!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2011 @ 9:47 am

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