Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Go DREAMers!

Advocates of the DREAM Act are motivated and read to mobilize the moment Obama is sworn into office:

Some See DREAM Act Within Reach
by Charles Dervarics

Barack Obama’s presidential victory is fueling widespread optimism among student groups that Congress and the next White House will endorse long-debated legislation to help undocumented students gain legal status.

These organizations see an opportunity to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, through which undocumented students who complete high school and two years of college could gain conditional legal status and eventual citizenship.

“Our strategy is to get it done in the first 100 days [of the new administration],” says Shanta Driver, spokeswoman for BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary.

Groups such as the United States Student Association, based in Washington, D.C., also share that view. “The DREAM Act is one of our top priorities for the first 100 days,” says Angela Peoples, USSA legislative director.

Congress in the past has considered the DREAM Act as a standalone bill and as one part of a comprehensive immigration reform package. Student groups want the former option for 2009.

“The best plan for the DREAM Act is as a standalone bill,” Peoples says. With its focus on helping children who came to the United States with their parents, the public can view it as an education access issue rather than “a large, divisive immigration plan.”

BAMN, USSA, change.org and others already are focusing on the Obama transition effort, while many blogs from students and nonprofit groups are rallying support for January. USSA also is planning call-ins, a fax campaign and a pledge card effort to inundate Capitol Hill, Peoples says. “A lot of students are mobilized,” she adds.

Full article can be read here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Almost Normal...

It is very encouraging how many DREAM Act news articles have surfaced in the last few weeks. This particular article I enjoy because it focuses on older DREAMers - not the ones who are just graduating High School, but DREAMers who graduated college. As difficult as it is for undocumented students who just graduate high school, it only gets more difficult as the years tick by and especially after earning a degree - four long years of hard work - that is now useless. While in college, DREAMers can pretend they are almost normal. Don't have a car? Can't afford it with college expenses. Work as a waitress? Plenty of 'college kids' take those jobs. After you have a college degree, it gets a lot hard to explain why you still don't have a car and still work as a waitress.

Well-educated and undocumented


Thousands of undocumented college graduates face major hurdles while looking for employment. Most were brought here by their parents.

Carried into the United States in her mother's arms, Maria became a criminal when she was just over 2-weeks-old.

Of course, she did not know that at the time. Maria found out that she was an illegal immigrant when she began applying to colleges at 17, and told herself that if she was unable to gain U.S. citizenship by the time she was 30, she would leave the country forever.

Now 22-years-old and a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton, Maria, who is still undocumented, said that she tries not to think about her lack of citizenship and the obstacles it could create for her future.

Maria is one of thousands of students in Orange County who have been able to attend college through AB 540, a California law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, rather than the higher fee charged to non-California residents.

The Register is withholding the full names of the undocumented students at their request and under newspaper policy that recognizes the potential for retaliation against them.

Undocumented students are ineligible for state or federal financial aid, but do get help under a policy that allows them to pay the same fees as California residents. For example, non-California residents pay an additional $20,608 a year at the University of California; up to $10,170 at the California State University: and up to $170 per unit at community colleges.

Since AB 540 was enacted in 2001, a growing number of undocumented students in California have been able to pursue college degrees. There are no statewide numbers on how many undocumented students receive help through the program or how much they receive.

While the bill has opened doors to some undocumented students, it has also created a big debate about the legality and merit of subsidizing education for illegal immigrants. And for students like Maria, who would not otherwise have been able to afford higher education, AB 540 has created a huge unanswered question: What happens after graduation?

Full article here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not "A Mexican Thing'...

This is an interesting article bringing to light the fact that not all undocumented students are Mexican. Though I understand that this is an Asian Newspaper, it would have been nice if the author had added a line or two about other regions of the world that a lot of Americans don't associate with where undocumented students could be from, such as Europe.

Not ‘A Mexican Thing’: Undocumented Asian students face stigma and lack of financial aid, job experience

Picture an undocumented student, and the first image to pop up is unlikely to be an Asian one.

Yet a recent report by the University of California Office of the President revealed that 40 to 44 percent of undocumented students in the UC system are Asian. This is definitely not “a Mexican thing,” which is how one undocumented student characterized the Asian community’s dismissive views towards undocumented immigration.

“People will ask you: ‘Are you AB 540? Because obviously you are not Latina,’” explains Tam, a 24-year-old of Vietnamese descent who recently graduated from UCLA (the last names of the undocumented students in this article have been withheld to protect their identities).

The 2001 state law AB 540 lowers the cost of tuition at California public universities for students who attended a high school in the state for at least three years. According to the UC Office of the President, over 1,639 students have benefited from AB 540; out of those, 1,200 were legal residents or citizens.

Out-of-state students attending California colleges filed a suit in 2005 challenging the law, objecting to the state’s practice of allowing illegal immigrants to pay significantly lower tuition than they pay. The suit was dismissed by the Yolo County Superior Court in 2006.

But on September 15, the Court of Appeal in Sacramento issued a ruling that challenges AB 540 on the grounds that it contradicts federal law, which holds that states cannot grant educational benefits based on residency.

But life continues for those who have made it to college. Faced with financial burdens and legal concerns in addition to the normal college student worries about classes and career, today’s unexpected and overlooked Asian undocumented students are screaming for help.

Tam came to the U.S. when she was six years old, and like many Americans, she wanted to go to college. Although undocumented students come from low-income families, they are not eligible for any kind of state or federal financial aid. Tam needed her parents’ help to pay for school, but she refused to ask.

“My major was English and I did not want to deal with ‘We’re paying for your education, so you will have to study what we want,’” explained Tam, who paid for school with money from work and private scholarships.

Ana, a third generation Japanese Peruvian, could not find enough scholarships to cover the costs of attending college without financial aid. Her parents are low-wage employees who could not afford it either. An aunt helped her secure a loan, but it is not subsidized by the government, as some student loans are, and interest is accrued every month. Yet it is helping her go to college.

“This how I paid my first year, and how I plan on paying my second year,” she said.

Not only she will get out of college in debt, but Ana is also frustrated about her future. Because of her legal status, she won’t have the same experience as fellow graduates in civil engineering.

“It doesn’t matter if you were admitted into the university, you are still not able to get internships and jobs, which are the real stuff,” she said. Without experience and legal status, Ana doubts she will be able to utilize her degree when she graduates.

Currently, the only path to legalization for these students is the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would allow undocumented students who have graduated from college in the United States to receive conditional residency and eventually legalization. The future of the bill is uncertain, but with the bill’s fiscal implications along with the current economic recession, support for it is low.

Furthermore, there is not much information for undocumented Asian students on how to even get to college. Those that exist are mainly in Spanish or English.

“Asian students who aren’t fluent in English or Spanish can’t access this information, so they have trouble getting the information they need to pursue opportunities and make knowledgeable decisions,” said Kathy Gin, co-founder of Educators for Fair Consideration, an organization that provides scholarships to low-income first-generation college students.

One’s immigration status is also a sensitive topic for Asians, and among Asian families, talking about it to even just ask for help is a taboo.

“When we came here and we were filling out the high school paperwork, my mom would say ‘Don’t talk about it,’” said Ana, who did not know the gravity of her status until she was enrolled in school.

Roseanne Fong, new student program director at UC Berkeley, explains that Latino students are more outspoken about one’s status.

“Asian students are more reluctant to come forward,” Fong said. “I have to read between the lines. For Chicano/Latino students, by the first email, they will tell me about their status.”

This silence and shame may be related to culture.

“From what I can infer, students from Asian families enforce ‘secrecy’ for fear of being deported-this explains the fact that they have to be very guarded and careful,” said Jere Takahashi, director of the Asian Pacific American Student Development Program at UC Berkeley. “They have fear that [if they speak up] it will lead to investigation and eventually deportation.”

Nevertheless, the stereotype of undocumented students being solely Latinos can benefit and harm Asian undocumented students. On the one hand, Asian undocumented students don’t suffer from many of the negative stereotypes facing Latino undocumented students. But silence means isolation, according to Gin.

“While undocumented Latino students can often seek support from Latino student groups or academic programs targeting Latino students, Asian undocumented students may not know whom to reach out to,” Gin said. “They may have trouble finding communities in which they can comfortably, openly and safely share their experiences with other students.”


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


What is Ideas for Change in America?

Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven effort to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies. You can help by submitting an idea for how you would change America, discussing ideas with others, and/or voting for your favorites

There's a page on change.org to pass the DREAM Act. You must register with valid e-mail address before the vote can be counted (registration is painless and easy). DREAM Act idea is currently in first place under Immigration on the site, so let's keep it that way by adding more votes. Vote here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

UC Berkeley Students Call On Obama to Enact the Dream Act

by Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday November 14, 2008

UC Berkeley students joined the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Thursday to launch a national campaign urging President-elect Barack Obama to enact the federal Dream Act, which would legalize federal financial aid and open a path of citizenship for undocumented immigrant college students across the nation, who are otherwise entrapped in complicated paperwork.

Held at the MLK Student Union on campus, the event—which was organized by BAMN and co-sponsored by Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, the Latino Business Students Association, the gender and women’s studies and Spanish and Portuguese studies departments at the university and the Chancellor’s Student Opportunity Fund—started with a group of undocumented students from around the Bay Area testifying about their struggles in the absence of federal financial aid.

Calls to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office for comment were not returned by press time, but a campus spokesperson confirmed that the chancellor supports the Dream Act. Birgeneau wrote an op-ed piece in support of the act for the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, Nov. 5.

In California, undocumented students have the right to attend a public university but are not allowed to apply for financial aid, something Thursday’s participants said they would aggressively push for once the new president is sworn in.

BAMN activists also called upon UC Berkeley to become a sanctuary campus and welcome African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other minority and immigrant communities.

“We want to make the era of change and hope real,” said BAMN organizer Yuvette Felarca, who also teaches at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley. “When we see the nation elect the first black president and yet we see that the percentage of blacks and Latinos on campuses like UC Berkeley and UCLA is so low, we need to make a change.”

Shanta Driver, national chairperson for BAMN, asked students to seize this important moment in history to start a new kind of civil rights movement which would oppose racism and bring equal opportunities to all.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen a real change in America and it has presented us with an opportunity to leave our mark on our nation,” she said to applause from the audience. “If it’s possible for America, with such a strong and deep history of racism to do this, then anything is possible. We need to resolve deep social problems and engage in a real debate and discussion on racism. “

She said that Obama should enact the Dream Act within his first 100 days in office.

“If the people who worked for Obama’s victory decide after inauguration day that their work is over it won’t happen,” Driver said. “We have to continue to be leaders of the movement that put him in power.”

Driver added that if the Dream Act failed under Obama, then generations of young people would ask, “If a black president couldn’t do it, then who can?”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1301, which incorporates the California Dream Act, on Sept. 30, citing a staggering state economy. Thousands of students who had mobilized in support of the bill were disappointed by his decision.

“The governor said that although he shared the author’s goal of making affordable education available to all California students, given the precarious fiscal condition the state is facing right now, it would not be prudent to place additional demands on our limited financial aid resources as specified in this bill,” said Francisco Castillo, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger.

Castillo added that the governor supported a local bill which allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

Gabriella, a UC Berkeley undocumented student from El Salvador who has been in U.S. since October 2005, said that even with in-state tuition, it is difficult to make ends meet

“The reason my dad brought me here is because he wanted me to have a better life,” she said. “But my transition to UC Berkeley has been very different than that of the other students. My dad earns less than $10,000 a year. I couldn’t get enough scholarship to live on campus so I am living with my best friend’s sister in Davis. I have to commute three to four hours every day. “

Gabriella—who wants to go to law school—said that when she started out as a sophomore at her high school in California, she didn’t speak English and never imagined going to community college, let alone UC Berkeley.

“Right now I can’t get a job because I don’t have a Social Security number and residence,” she said. “Sometimes I have to skip meals in order to pay for the shuttle. I had to sacrifice many things to be at UC Berkeley. Usually people have gym, clubs or homework sessions after class, but I can’t go to any of those. My future is pretty uncertain and if the situation doesn’t change I might have to drop out. I have hope that the Dream Act might get passed one day.”

Zaira, another undocumented student at the university, echoed her thoughts.

“It’s hard to describe the life of an undocumented student on campus,” she said. “We act the same as the other students but our efforts are not reciprocated by the education system. All undocumented students are equal and deserve the same rights. There’s no reason why we should get the leftovers of education. I want to ask those opposing the Dream Act to give me one reason why it shouldn’t be made a reality.”


Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Movie Highlights DREAMers

In the trailer for the new movie "Crossing Over" one of the immigrants being followed in the storyline is a undocumented high school student. Maybe this movie will inform more Americans about the merits of the DREAM Act.

“You would uproot a fifteen-year-old teenager who came to this country when she was three years old?”

“She’s illegal. She’s removable.”

Movie synopsis:

Immigrants from around the world enter Los Angeles every day, with hopeful visions of a better life, but little notion of what that life may cost. Their desperate scenarios test the humanity of immigration enforcement officers. In 'Crossing Over,' writer-director Wayne Kramer explores the allure of the American dream, and the reality that immigrants find -- and create -- in 21st century L.A. -

Watch trailer in link below:


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ask President-Elect Obama to Pass the DREAM Act

Have you heard? Change.gov is asking you to tell them your ideas and how to help solve the biggest challenges of this country.

Take a minute and let them know that the passage of the DREAM Act should be a priority.

Please submit it here.

Will Obama Forget about DREAMers?

Obama winning the Presidential election was a big step toward the passage of DREAM Act, but in no shape or form does it guarantee it. Advocates for DREAM Act must continue pushing, and not allow this issue to be thrown to the side or put on the back burner.

Members over at DAP have recently found two quotes Obama made about the DREAM Act while he was running for President.

P: There are many students as we speak listening to this show. Will you bring back the DREAM act and would it be part of your priorities in your first year as president?

O: As I said before, the DREAM Act is something I have been a sponsor of in the past. Dick Durbin, my senior senator from Illinois and I have worked diligently on the issue. I was a supporter of the DREAM act when I was in the state of Illinois and we were able to get it passed. I think it is the right thing to do. I think it is something that I will continue to work on.


OBAMA: Well, I just think that it is very important for everybody to vote. And so, I hope that people are moving forward with early voting. You’ve got an opportunity I think in this election to choose somebody like myself, who has worked for 20 years alongside people of all races, as a community organizer, somebody who was a civil rights lawyer, somebody who as a state legislator at the state level, helped to promote our version of the DREAM act so that children could go to college, regardless of their citizenship status. At the federal level, somebody who has worked not only on immigration reform, but also on the DREAM Act, also on making sure that we are dealing with the dropout situation in our communities. So I think you can have confidence that I will be a champion for the values of South Texas when I am president of the United States of America. I hope everybody considers voting for me, and I hope they take the time to vote early.


Let us work on pressuring President-elect Obama to keep his word.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chancellor's Message to the President-Elect

Robert J. Birgeneau

Dear Mr. President:

As America awakens this morning, you will already be taking on the heavy mantle of leadership. You will be looked upon to solve, among other things, the problems of our faltering economy, failing health care, increased global warming and an uncertain energy future, and the war in Iraq. In the midst of all this, I want to remind you of a precious resource that is ready to help and one that is outstandingly good America's higher education system.

Higher education in the United States, both private and public, is the envy of the world. We lead the world in education, research and innovation. We have a National Academy of Sciences formally charged with advising government. The National Academy of Sciences pointed out in a report that we must bolster science and engineering if we are to retain America's global leadership in innovation. The Department of Energy supports almost 50 percent of all federally funded research in the physical sciences and the National Institutes of Health is paramount for support of research in our health and life sciences. These investments are critically important for the nation not only to provide support to faculty to carry out basic and applied research but to attract and train graduate students who will be the next generation of discoverers and innovators. We must also broaden support for humanities and social sciences as part of a strong research ecosystem. Today's great global challenges cross many disciplines and require solutions that bring perspectives that are social and humanistic as well as scientific.

There is much incontrovertible evidence of the benefits of higher education both to individuals and to society. According to the US Census Bureau, the national median annual income of college graduates without advanced degrees is $51,700, while those with only a high school education earn just over $30,000 and those without a high school diploma earn less than $20,000 a year. Those with only a high school education are twice as likely to be unemployed and three times as likely to require public assistance as college graduates. Better-educated people are more likely to vote and to participate in the civic life of their communities. Education helps with the development of the critical thinking skills that are necessary to succeed in a global society. To give every qualified student the opportunity for a college education, we must look at significantly increasing financial aid for those with need. This must be done through increasing grants, not loans. Students who are already financially disadvantaged as they enter college should not also graduate disadvantaged with high debts. Programs that offer loan forgiveness to encourage college graduates to go into public service positions, which are often low-paying, should be aggressively implemented.

There is one group of students in particular who need your immediate attention-undocumented students. Our failure to give these students a path to success and to citizenship is a terrible waste of young talent-talent that this country desperately needs. Each year across the nation, 50,000 to 60,000 undocumented students graduate from high school after having spent at least five years in this country. The Dream Act, which provided access to financial aid and a thoughtfully mapped-out path to citizenship, became entangled in the failed immigration bill. It is time to revive and pass the act on its own merits.

Finally, you should know that universities genuinely want to provide the best education possible to our students. We value our autonomy and understand that with that privilege comes responsibility to those who support us. We have always been and will continue to be fully accountable. Proposals to tax our endowments and to impose upon us highly bureaucratic measures of accountability will take us in the wrong direction. We should preserve the policies that have made it possible for our higher education system to be the envy of the world. In that way, we can pledge our help to you, Mr. President, to bring the power of our unparalleled system of research and education to work in support of a better America and a better world.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

It has been a year...

I cannot believe that a year has now passed from DREAM Act's defeat in the Senate last year. It was a painful day, and it was painful for weeks after. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about that day. It gets harder every year, and especially as you get older. When I was eighteen and I had just heard about the DREAM Act from my laywer I was hopeful for its passage, but not so concerned about what it could mean for my future. I am now twenty-four years old, and the passage of the DREAM Act in the next two years will *decide* my future, at least in this country.

I graduated with a Bachelor's degree two years ago, and I have just begun to pursue my masters. It is strange being back in school after two years off. I feel like I am there for different reasons than so many of my fellow classmates. They are there to advance their career. I am there to buy time, as well as advance my career. Though first and foremost to buy time; so that the degree I already earned, tucked away in a drawer, isn't gathering dust and losing its value.

I am grateful that I can continue to pursue my studies. There are so many other DREAMers out there who just graduated high school and college who can't afford any higher education. Then there are the DREAMers who are under threat of deportation. The hopes and future of thousands of de-facto Americans who call this country their home rests on the passage of DREAM Act. I am hopeful with a new president the DREAM Act will become a reality. Hopefully by this time next year I'll be writing a very different entry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama's Education Advisor Mentions DREAM Act

In Debate, Education Advisers to McCain and Obama Focus on K-12 Issues
During the course of three 90-minute debates between Barack Obama and John McCain over the past four weeks, the two presidential candidates faced only one question about their approach toward education.

That left lots of ground for their education advisers to cover when they squared off last night in their own 90-minute debate at Columbia University, in New York. Those wanting an elaboration of the candidates’ competing visions for higher education, however, were likely to have been disappointed once more.

The moderator, Susan H. Fuhrman, president of Teachers College at Columbia University, asked the two education advisers — Lisa Graham Keegan of the McCain campaign and Linda Darling-Hammond of the Obama campaign — only one question directly on the topic of higher education. Ms. Fuhrman spent a total of four minutes getting their answers, before moving back to other education topics.

In that four-minute span, the two advisers cited a few of the priorities for higher education that the candidates have highlighted on the campaign trail, as well as some issues that have received less attention.

Asked by Ms. Fuhrman how the country could “preserve access to higher education” given the nation’s economic turmoil, Ms. Keegan said that Mr. McCain, a Republican, wanted to do more to help high-school juniors identify the college they will attend.

By their junior year, programs should be in place so that students “are already being connected into high-level vocational training for life-sustaining skills work if that’s where they are headed, or they are already engaged with the community college or a university,” said Ms. Keegan, a former Arizona superintendent of public instruction.

Similar to what President Bush has tried unsuccessfully for several years, Ms. Keegan also called for combining dozens of federal higher-education grant programs. “All of these grant programs have got to be under one umbrella so that they are easy for families, they are accessible, there is transparent information about schools,” she said. “And that would create a much greater pool of money that’s available for them.”

Ms. Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, cited the often-repeated promise by Mr. Obama, a Democrat, to offer students the possibility of a $4,000 tax credit to pay for college. “That will pay about two-thirds of the cost of college at a public college or university, and will enable virtually all young people who are qualified, have made the grades and are ready to advance, be able to go to college,” she said.

Mr. Obama also wants to keep raising the amount of the Pell Grant “so that it more closely approximates what people actually have to pay” for college, said Ms. Darling-Hammond. And she said he supported passage of a federal “Dream Act,” one leading version of which would provide permanent legal residency for the children of illegal immigrants who finish two years of college or enroll in the armed forces.

Ms. Keegan later expressed Mr. McCain’s support for financing basic research, “primarily in the area of science and technology,” after Ms. Fuhrman asked the two advisers for the candidates’ opinion of federally backed research. Ms. Keegan also pointed out Mr. McCain’s oft-stated opposition to research projects in which Congress earmarks money for a specific institution.

Ms. Darling-Hammond took the question as referring to research on ways to improve education at the elementary and secondary level — an interpretation that reflected the overwhelming focus of the debate — and responded with a broad call for the federal government to help identify effective teaching strategies. —Paul Basken


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local students help others reach education dreams

They have a DREAM

The bleak outlook on attaining legal status can be disheartening for all immigrants, but especially for students whose status and situation are unaccounted for in the current immigration system.

"For minors as well as anyone else, especially those from Mexico and Central America, 90 percent have no way of obtaining legal status, an example of why our system doesn't work," says Mark Silverman, director of immigration policy at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center of San Francisco.

Currently, undocumented people, including minors, can become legal either through an application filed by their employer, a family member with legal status — parents, siblings and spouses — or through the foster system, but Silverman points out that these people cannot work legally.

"These students don't have the route," he says. "That's the basic, current situation."

An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools in the United States every year. Without a route toward legal status, they are left with few options.

"All of these laws are technically designed for adults," says Lynette Parker, Santa Clara University clinical supervising attorney at the School of Law Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center. "The kids either fall into one of four categories or they don't. There's just not much designed for young people."

This growing group of undocumented immigrants needs to be accounted for and given a chance to give back to their communities, Parker says.

"The economy needs an influx of young people," she says. "It needs their dreams, visions and willingness to put some muscle behind them because this huge generation that's aging and retiring cannot."

Silverman agrees.

"These students are our future. It would be a shame if society would squander this future."

Silverman is an advocate of the DREAM act, a law proposed to the U.S. Senate in 2005 that would allow undocumented students brought into the country as children the chance to gain permanent legal status.

However, he emphasizes that this act is no free ride.

These students would be given a six-year temporary residency during which they attend either a four-year or two-year college or serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Along with this, they would be required to complete and uphold other standards outlined in the act, including keeping a clean criminal record and performing up to 900 community service hours.

After the students completed their education or time in the armed forces, they would be given probationary permanent residency for six years and start down a path toward citizenship.

"It has had a lot of bipartisan support, including, at the time, by Sen. [John] McCain," Silverman says. "People may blame Cesar's parents, but how can they blame him? These kids didn't choose to be here."

Although the bill is stagnant at the moment and McCain is no longer a supporter, Silverman says there should be a better idea of its potential success in November when the country elects a new president.

"I want the DREAM act to be passed because I want these bright immigrant students to help pay my Social Security," he says.

To U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the plan of action is obvious.

"Basically, these young people are de facto Americans," Lofgren says. "They were raised and brought up in this country."

She says that the argument that these individuals shouldn't be rewarded with legal status for breaking the law is illogical.

"Amnesty presumes that you've committed some fault," she says, which doesn't work if the children are being brought here along with the family.

The arguments, Lofgren says boil down to one thing: "racism in America — and as a country, we're better than this."

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Update: Juan Gomez

Once facing deportation, student heads to college


Just a year ago, Killian High star grad Juan Gomez barely avoided a forcible return to his native Colombia, a country he scarcely knows, when classmates, civic leaders and members of Congress rallied to help him stave off deportation.

Now he's off -- not to South America, but north to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., alma mater of Bill Clinton, where he has been admitted as an international student on scholarship.

Shortly after stepping off an early flight from Miami on Thursday, Gomez, 19, found himself engaged in an all-American activity -- shopping at a Target to outfit the dorm room he will share with a student from California.

''It's been really exciting,'' Gomez said before leaving Miami.

For Gomez, the one off-note was the absence of his parents, who were deported to Colombia in October.

''They were a little sad that they won't be able to go up with me,'' Gomez said.

Julio and Liliana Gomez brought Juan and his older brother, Alex, to the United States in 1990 with tourist visas in a fruitless bid for political asylum, but the family stayed in the country for more than a decade despite a deportation order.

When immigration authorities detained the family last year, Juan and Alex became causes celebres, symbolizing the plight of tens of thousands of young immigrants who are in legal jeopardy because they were brought to the country as children by their parents without authorization.

A widely publicized grass-roots campaign led by the teens' friends led to two principal efforts, including a bid to pass the so-called DREAM Act, which would allow young immigrants in their situation to stay by going to college or serving in the military. That effort stalled amid last year's acrimonious debates over immigration.

Then came private bills filed by U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Sen. Christopher Dodd that, if passed, would allow the brothers to stay permanently. Immigration officials granted the young men a stay of deportation until Congress takes up the bills sometime early next year. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also has backed efforts to let the brothers stay.

Opponents of the DREAM Act have said Congress should not reward immigrants who flout the law regardless of their youth or talents.

''We can't solve the problem by encouraging more people to come here,'' said Mike Cutler, a former immigration agent and fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a group that advocates cuts in legal and illegal immigration.

``Do I feel bad for this kid? Yes. But it comes back to parental responsibility. Bringing a child unlawfully into this country with all of that uncertainty jeopardizes the well-being of that child.''

Supporters say it's foolish to cast away bright, able young people whose education represents substantial public investment.

''To deport them or waste their talents is a terrible brain drain for our country as well as a loss of the tax dollars already invested in their education,'' said Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which represents the Gomez brothers.

After their parents and grandmother were deported, Juan and Alex continued to live in the family's Kendall home. Juan took a job at a local Outback Steakhouse to save money for college. Alex, 20, has also been working at a restaurant and will attend Miami Dade College. He hopes to be a firefighter, his brother said.

Juan spent a year studying in Miami-Dade's Honors College.

''It was a great year,'' he said. ``I made some good friends. But in the middle of the year, I decided I was going to apply to schools again.''

The acceptance to Georgetown as a transfer student came with a $42,000 competitive scholarship, not quite enough to cover tuition and expenses for a year. Juan will be a sophomore and take courses in business and finance, preparation for a career in investment banking or law.

He was accompanied to Washington by Bette Ellen Quiat, the mother of buddy Scott Elfenbein, now at Harvard, who helped organize the campaign for the Gomez brothers.

Quiat was helping Juan pick out cool-weather clothes and dorm furnishings as he spoke on a cellphone.

''I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this stuff,'' Juan joked. ``I'm really appreciating this help.''

Otherwise, the unflappable young man said he was not in the least cowed by the new challenge he's taken on.

''Honestly, I'm not nervous at all,'' he said.

Nor has he given up on staying for good. He said he will continue to hope for passage of the private bills and push for the DREAM Act.

''I wouldn't have applied [to Georgetown] if I really thought I'd be leaving in a year,'' he said. ``I feel like my best chances of staying in this country are going to a prestigious institution like Georgetown.''


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?

Some of my fellow DREAMers that I know are featured in this article. Not the best DREAM Act article, but certainly not the worst. Check it out below:

Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?
A new front line in the immigration debate: access to higher education

By Eddy Ramírez

She was a national finalist for a prestigious science award and graduated as the valedictorian of her high school class. Now, a senior at a public university in Illinois, she is poised to graduate in the spring with a degree in bioengineering and a 3.84 grade-point average. Despite her impressive academic credentials, Cecylia faces an uncertain future. A native of Poland, she has resided in the United States unlawfully for most of her 21 years. Unless federal immigration laws change and allow undocumented students like her to become legal residents, she won't be able to put her degree to use and work as an American engineer.

For this woman and other undocumented students, who asked not to be identified by their full names for fear that they or their families could be at risk, graduation day—whether it's high school or college—is filled with worry. While a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision entitles illegal immigrants to a free education from kindergarten through high school, neither Congress nor the courts have figured out what to do with the estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrant students who graduate from high school each year once they decide to attend college. Resolving the question of their access to higher education ultimately depends on a federal decision on whether—and how—to move the estimated 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in the United States toward proper citizenship status. A proposed federal law called the Dream Act would enable undocumented students who have attended U.S. schools and met other conditions to gain legal status and qualify for some student aid. But, so far, the meas-ure has failed to win enough support in Congress, leaving states to cobble together their own policies for handling these students in higher ed.

Statewide ban. Some legal scholars believe the federal government has already made a stand. In 1996, Congress passed a law barring states from giving unlawful residents "postsecondary education benefit[s]" that they don't offer to U.S. citizens. But since then, state legislatures in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and six other states have waived out-of-state tuition fees for illegal immigrant students.

The pressure for a firm federal decision is building, though it doesn't appear Congress will address the issue soon.

Heightened concern about the slowing economy and illegal immigration already has led some states to close the doors of higher education on undocumented students. This summer, South Carolina became the first state to ban such students from all of its public colleges and universities. Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Oklahoma have also drawn a line in the sand and now deny illegal immigrants in-state tuition benefits. Supporters of these policies say that scarce education dollars should be spent on making college more affordable for U.S. citizens, not illegal immigrants. "At a time of economic hardship for so many Americans, we need to worry about American students," says William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee.

Gheen's group has vigorously opposed colleges offering admission and discounted tuition to undocumented students in fast-growing North Carolina. On August 15, the state's 58 community colleges will consider whether to remove or continue a ban on illegal immigrants. Community college officials adopted the ban in May after the state attorney general's office advised them that admitting unlawful residents conflicted with federal law. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has since told the state that federal law does not bar colleges from admitting illegal immigrants. Immigrant-rights groups are now urging North Carolina's community colleges to once again open their doors to all students.

Advocates of open access say it's cruel and wrongheaded to deny undocumented students higher education and an opportunity to obtain legal status. They argue that these students would ultimately pay more taxes and make greater contributions as professionals and citizens. Jacqueline, a native of Mexico who has lived in North Carolina since she was 8, says undocumented students like her should not be punished for their parents' actions. "So unless they literally kick me out," the 20-year-old says, referring to the pending decision by the community colleges, "I won't leave." Jacqueline says she wants to become a teacher one day and help immigrants learn English. Graig Meyer, who heads a mentoring program for students in the area and has taken Jacqueline under his wing, says: "We have a huge teacher shortage in the state. And [Jacqueline] is exactly the type of student we should be encouraging to go to school."

While an overall crackdown on illegal immigrants in North Carolina has caused some families to flee the state, undocumented students there and elsewhere say they have no intention of returning to their birth countries. Mark, a native of the Philippines who has lived in rural Illinois and California since the age of 5, has grown up a typical American teenager. He listens to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and roots for the St. Louis Cardinals. "English is the only language I speak," says the 25-year-old, who lost legal status after overstaying his visa. "I couldn't see myself ever going back."

Like other illegal students, Mark lives in a state of limbo. He's working to pay for community college classes while waiting for Congress or the courts to take action. To raise awareness about their plight, Mark and other "Dreamers," as undocumented students call themselves because of their hope for Dream Act legislation, have sent letters and made calls to members of Congress. They have also forged strong communities online, where they tell their stories and sometimes raise money for their education.

Facing uncertainty about how their citizenship status will affect their chances of getting a job, some undocumented students currently enrolled in higher education are staying in school longer and, in some cases, pursuing postgraduate degrees. Preshika, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant from Fiji who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is considering law school while she waits for a green card. In Cali-fornia, she and other graduates of the state's high schools are exempt from paying the steep out-of-state tuition fees that would otherwise discourage many of them from going to college. She already has two degrees: a bachelor's in political science and a master's in international relations.

Tuition lawsuit. But California and other states are now under heavy pressure to repeal in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, represents a group of students who are suing California. Their suit alleges that California is violating a 1996 federal law that prohibits states from favoring illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens. California's tuition rate for out-of-state students is about four times the in-state tuition that undocumented students living there are eligible to receive. According to Kobach's calculations, California taxpayers spend $200 million every year to subsidize the in-state tuition of an estimated 25,000 undocumented students enrolled in the state's public colleges. A judgment in favor of Kobach and his clients might force California to reimburse out-of-state students and drop its in-state tuition policy for illegal immigrants. An appeals court is expected to issue an opinion on the matter soon.

Zan Brennan, the mother of a 2005 graduate of the University of Kansas, says it's an outrage that illegal immigrants in states like California and Kansas can claim in-state tuition while U.S. citizens from neighboring states must pay higher fees. In 2005, her daughter, Brigette, unsuccessfully sued Kansas after being told she would have to pay out-of-state tuition even though she went to a Kansas high school. The reason: Her family lived on the other side of the state border, in Kansas City, Mo.

Cecylia, the undocumented student from Poland, remains hopeful that a new president and federal lawmakers will support a pathway for students like her to become legal residents. Her professors have encouraged her to pursue graduate school. But Cecylia shows little enthusiasm for the idea. For her, graduation day could be bittersweet.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Operation Scheduled Departure: Immigrants, Deport Yourselves

By Suman Raghunathan

Could the nation's undocumented immigrants please stand up? The government will be happy to deport you.

In a move that speaks to the bind policymakers find themselves in these days on the issue of immigration -- jostled between the complexity of the issue, its deep politicization and the lack of vision Washington leaders have brought to the topic in the post 9/11 era -- the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) will encourage the nation's roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants to simply volunteer to turn themselves into immigration authorities for deportation in the coming months.

ICE Director Julie Myers leaked the new federal effort on Univision this past Sunday at the end of an interview with Jorge Ramos, the anchor of the popular public affairs show "Al Punto" and in advance of an anticipated formal announcement next week.

Entitled "Operation Scheduled Departure," the still-unannounced program would allow undocumented immigrants without criminal records to turn themselves in at Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices nationwide. In exchange for "self-deporting," the immigrants would be processed and get a few weeks to pack their belongings and get their affairs in order before leaving the country -- without being put in a detention facility.

The program does not provide any other incentive for undocumented immigrants to volunteer to leave the country through the program.

What's interesting is Myers' announcement of the program on national television to only Univisión. There have been no other announcements about the program to the mainstream media from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for deporting undocumented immigrants.

The Houston Chronicle picked up on the Al Punto news segment but was unable to get comments on the policy from ICE or Department of Homeland Security officials in San Antonio, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.

In her interview with Ramos, Myers noted that ICE deported approximately 274,000 undocumented immigrants last year, an agency record.

Myers' announcement comes on the heels of a wave of controversial immigration raids nationwide, and is reportedly in response to comments from immigrants in deportation proceedings who said they would prefer to "self-deport" rather than be confined in federal detention centers. A national debate on federal deportation policies was sparked in particular by a May 2008 raid in Postville, Iowa, which was the largest single immigration enforcement action in the nation's history and rounded up nearly 400 undocumented meatpacking plant workers. Testimony from Erik Camayd-Freixas, a federally appointed interpreter for many of the immigrants and a Florida International professor, sparked questions about immigrants’ due process in the proceedings.

Immigrant rights and immigrant restrictionist groups alike scoffed at the plan's impracticality, noting that many undocumented immigrants have family roots in the U.S., including children who are American citizens.

"Just when you thought the Bush Administration would ride quietly into the sunset, along comes another harebrained scheme that can't have been carefully thought out. We are not going to deport our way out of our current immigration mess, nor is it likely that most or even many of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants here will choose to leave on their own," said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum in a press release.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Waiting for 2009...

I found this over at DREAM Act -Texas. The author of this piece has eloquently said the very many things all us DREAMers feel in regards to the DREAM Act and fully living our lives.

I am just waiting for 2009 to come, if the DREAM doesn't happen by then i will be out of here!

I hear this more and more from fellow DREAMers, just waiting on 2009 to come by; we are kind of waiting for something better to come along. Students with one or two degrees are getting burnt out already. They/We are itching to learn, experience, practice... to really live! Many of us feel betrayed by the sentence: "hard work pays off" I don't know how many times I have said this to others and how many times I've heard somebody saying this to me, but it's definitely a sentence that everytime i hear it, i can't help but to grin. As positive as i really am though, i have been telling myself more that if by 2009 nothing happens nothing will ever happen... or was anything ever going to happen?

I mean, by 2009 i should be finally done with school, other things should be settled, and most importantly: new horizons are surely waiting somewhere else, no? It is very hard to describe the feelings going through me right now when i am almost reaching 24 years of age- I mean, it is like this itch to go and see the world, to learn, to hope that there are better things out there waiting to be devoured by our passion and hunger. Many DREAMers are now adults, we are in our mid-20's, we are thinking of other things like: really living our lives! (whatever that fully entails)

Will Obama or McCain bring some sort of resolution in 2009? Not just for DREAMers, what about our parents? Will they also be ‘forgiven’?

I don't know- all i know is that I am not angry anymore. I am done with the questioning of why things are the way they are. I finally understood that there are people in the world in far worse situations than I am. Sure, it takes a big toll in my life and the life of other DREAMers to be in this state of limbo. Some of us have had to drive and struggle to other states just to get an ID, or have a bachelor's and master degree but continue to work in the restaurant kitchen, we have two jobs to make rent on top of classes. Some of us are still writing papers at three in the morning and can't help but to stop and say out loud: "hold on, why am i doing this again?"

What i believe at this point is that CHOICE rests in the power of our hands. We can choose to continue fighting here, for us, our families. On the other hand, we can now look for other alternatives; this is not giving up but understanding that the world does not end in this land of the 'freedom.'

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Educating aliens best choice for all parties

Reasonable people don't blame children for the alleged sins of their parents, but when it comes to illegal immigration, some opinions change.

Take those of Assemblymen Richard Merkt and Michael P. Carroll, both R-Morris. They have introduced a bill that would bar illegal residents from attending any college in the state.

This bill has no chance of passing. Of course, if it did, it would be amusing to see state government try to force a mandate on private colleges. But let's forget about the practical and concentrate on the philosophical.

Just who are these illegal residents looking to go to college?

A story in the Daily Record on Sunday identified one of them, Felipe Vargas, a sophomore at Morristown High School. Vargas, we read, is getting good grades and wants to study art and maybe become a teacher.

Yes, Vargas is in this country illegally. But it was hardly his choice. His parents brought him to the United States from Colombia when he was 10. Vargas is now growing up very much like any other American teen.

The knee jerk reaction by some -- all one needs to do is to read our online forums -- is to deny this young man a seat in a college classroom for starters and to ultimately throw him out of the country.

But why? The most important point is that Vargas and others in similar predicaments across New Jersey committed no infraction.

Many were brought to this nation at a very young age by their parents. It's not as if they had any choice in the matter.

As the immigration debate has simmered for more than a year now, the anti-illegal immigrant faction has a simple solution: throw them out of the country. They seem unmoved by the fact that is not going to happen.

In fact, the only legislation seriously considered by Congress -- it was backed by President Bush -- would have eased the path to legal status for most illegals working in the United States.

The unfortunate failure of what was a compromise bill to pass has meant that the status quo remains. That's no way to deal with a problem.

But as long as the status quo remains, there are going to be a lot of people like young Vargas. These are youngsters who are going to school in the United States and who are being educated not as Colombians, Peruvians, or Mexicans, but as Americans.

And the question is an obvious one.

When these students graduate high school, what would be better for them and the country? For them to go to college or, if Merkt and Carroll have their way, for them to be denied entry to college?

The answer is as obvious as the question. An educated person contributes much more to society than one who is not educated. A contrary bill -- Merkt and Carroll introduced their bill as response to the other one -- in the Legislature would grant some undocumented immigrants in-state tuition to public colleges. Ten other states do that.

That is the way to go. The fiercest opponent of illegal immigration should realize that an educated young person is of greater benefit to society than a non-educated one.

It's time to look beyond the scathing condemnation of "illegal alien" and consider the bigger picture.

Fred Snowflack is editorial page editor of the Daily Record. Contact him at fsnowfla@gannett.com., or at (973) 428-6617.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

DREAMERS Earning Degrees

So I haven’t posted on this blog for awhile...

Here’s an update on the biographies I’ve been collecting from DREAM Act Students. I’m listing once again degrees either earned or in the process of being earned: It always amazes me how accomplished DREAMERS are despite all the roadblocks of being an undocumented student. Legal or not, these accomplishments are something to be proud of.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics/Mathematics
Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry
Bachelor of Sciences in Electrical Engineering
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs (Minor in Maritime Law)

AAS in Nursing RN
Accountant and Spanish Major
Physiological Sciences Major
Emergency Medical Technician (3rd Top Student

Monday, May 12, 2008

Undocumented Students are Allowed to Attend College

It appears it is now official:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not require any school to determine a student’s status (ie., whether or not he or she is legally allowed to study). DHS also does not require any school to request immigration status information prior to enrolling students or to report to the government if they know a student is out of status, except in the case of those who came on student visas or for exchange purposes and are registered with the Student Exchange and Visitor Program.

Full statement by ICE can be read here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The immigration line to the U.S. is really a black hole

Enough of the anti-immigrant rhetoric already.

It's bad enough that radio shock jocks and cable TV personalities demonize undocumented immigrants. But what bothers me even more is the reflexive response by well-meaning Americans that undocumented immigrants ought to "get in line and wait their turn."

What they don't realize is that our immigration system is so broken that there is no line.

When my parents and I immigrated to the United States back in 1965, it was simple. My father, an architect, went to the consulate in our hometown in Colombia and inquired about a student visa that would allow him to work part time while going to graduate school, and have my mother and me accompany him. After a brief conversation, the consulate officer gave him the paperwork for a resident visa. My father filled out the application and paid the fees, we all got medical checkups, and six months later we were being welcomed by Mother's Cuban family in Miami.

Since then the "line" has become a black hole. Around 1979, my father petitioned to have his elderly parents join him in America. He believed it would be a speedy process. How wrong he was. My grandfather died in 1985 waiting his "turn in line." My 83-year-old grandmother had to wait three more years, living alone, before her turn came up.

About five years ago, my husband (an American citizen) sought to bring his younger brother to the U.S. with the hope of starting a business that his brother could help manage. He learned the waiting period would be 15 years.

Today, a hardworking, low- or semi-skilled individual has virtually no possibility of immigrating legally to this country, and even professionals find it almost impossible. It's not that these immigrants refuse to go to the post office and fill out the paperwork; the doors of the post office are essentially closed.

Immigrants have three ways of getting here legally.

One is through family petition, which makes available 500,000 visas annually and results in years of waiting, depending on the relationship to the petitioner and country of origin. It is not uncommon for spouses of American citizens to wait two to six years to join their husband or wife. The waiting period for the sibling of an American citizen of Filipino origin is about 22 years. (During the waiting period, the family member generally cannot enter the United States for visits, since once you petition for a resident visa you cannot apply for a tourist visa.)

Another way is through sponsorship by an employer. The employer needs to demonstrate that no American can be found to fill the open position. This route ties the immigrant to that employer and can result in exploitation.

The last resort is the annual lottery for entrants who demonstrate a high-school degree or five years' work experience in an occupation that requires this degree or its equivalent. Last year, more than 1.5 million hopeful entrants worldwide sought to be one of the lucky winners of the 55,000 annual visa slots. The odds make it a true jackpot.

Americans of European descent should ponder how many of their immigrant ancestors would have qualified for entry under today's immigration system. Those who say their ancestors followed the rules should ask what those rules were. Did your ancestors do more than arrive at Ellis Island?

To more recent immigrants who protest that they waited their turn in line, I say that the only difference between us and an undocumented immigrant today is timing. We got to the line just in time, before it, in effect, closed.

When Americans tell immigrants who seek the American dream and to reunite with their loved ones to go through the system, to get in line, I have to ask: What system? What line?

Cristina Lopez is the deputy executive director at the Center for Community Change. She wrote this for the Progressive Media Project.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

ACTION ALERT: Shuler/Tancredo Proposal Moving Forward

You may have heard that last month the House Republicans began the process that, they hope, will force a vote on the Shuler/Tancredo “SAVE Act” in the House of Representatives. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA) filed a discharge petition for the Shuler/Tancredo bill and GOP leadership hopes to get enough signatures to force through this ill-conceived measure.

The Republicans only need 218 signatures in order to bypass normal committee procedures and force the SAVE Act to the floor. There are already 185 signatures on the discharge petition!









See if your Rep. is a Sponsor Here:


Your Representatives' phone number is online here:





Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Dream Deferred

Check out this new DREAM Act Blog brought to you by Brave New Films that features the voices of college students from all over the United States.

Watch the video!

Read their stories!

Demand a pledge from Clinton, McCain, and Obama to enact the DREAM Act in their first 100 days. All three of them have co-sponsored the federal DREAM Act in the past. Sign the petition!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuition Protests in MD

I've found in general people like to complain, but rarely do they actually do anything about it. In the state I live in there has been a lot of problems with the state budget, and daily you hear this person say this should be changed or that. They need to recognize that change will not happen unless you act by writing, calling, and rallying.

That is why I always find it refreshing when you see young people protesting for something they believe in. It shows they care enough for the cause to do more than just complain. Below is a recent article about a rally in Maryland to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students living in that state:

Immigrant Community Protests College Tuition Rates

Students protested at the University of Maryland Monday to demand easier access to higher education and paths to citizenship for illegals.

A number of former and present high school students, who are living in the U.S. illegally, rallied in support of legislation that would allow undocumented students living in Maryland to qualify for much more affordable in-state tuition rates.

Under the current law, immigrants are considered out-of-state residents. "As of right now, I can't afford one credit to go to college," said high school graduate Jenifer Merando. Merando said her goal of attending the University of Maryland has been delayed. Instead of studying, she's working to make enough money to pay out of state rates. "Because I don't have that money one year has been wasted since I graduated," she said.

Montgomery Blair High School student Manuel Flores said he just wants a chance to live the American dream."I love this country."

"They want to really blur the lines between legal and illegal," said protester Susan Payne. She continued to say people in this county illegally should not have the right to take slots away from in-state residents. "And why should they get an exemption because quote, 'their parents brought them here against their will, when they were young children.' Well their parents chose to willfully violate federal law."

The legislation pending before the Maryland General Assembly has a number of qualifiers, like the illegal immigrant must graduate from a Maryland high school.


Friday, March 14, 2008


NEW VOICE has a weekly feature of original, nonfiction essays by college, high school and middle school students. This week there is a well-written essay by Ariadne Reza, a senior at Long Island High School about the DREAM Act.

America has always been viewed as the land of opportunity, where people go to seek a better life. There are some, however, who were brought to the United States illegally when they were young. These are the children of illegal immigrants.

As they grew up, immersed in American culture, they lost all memory of their country of origin and became Americanized. Unlike their parents, they can barely remember their country of birth.

When these children graduate from high school and are ready for college, they find out that in some states they are ineligible for financial aid. Their illegal status also makes it nearly impossible to find meaningful work, making college an unreachable dream.

The DREAM Act or, The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would grant these undocumented citizens legal residency after a conditional period of six years.

Students would have to meet certain requirements, such as graduating from high school and living in the United States for at least five consecutive years. They must also have arrived in this country before age 15. Finally, they must show "good moral character" or the absence of a criminal record.

Opponents say this act is basically rewarding criminals, but these students didn't choose to immigrate to the United States. Some argue this act would cost the government money because certain rights would have to be extended to them. But the DREAM Act would do the opposite, since the government would be able to collect revenue from new taxpayers. And people who have worked hard in school will have a chance to stand out in society.

Congress should reconsider the DREAM Act to give deserving immigrant students the opportunities for which this country is renowned.

NEW VOICES is a weekly feature with original, nonfiction essays by college, high school and middle school students. Send submissions of up to 400 words to Opinion Department, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Or send e-mail to: newvoices@newsday .com or fax to 631-843-2986. Please include a photograph of yourself along with your address and your telephone number.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

H.R. 4408 Must Be Stopped~ Call to Action

The Republicans have pushed this bill to vote even though it has not been evaluated in committee. It is urgent that everyone contact their representative.

On November 6, 2007, Rep. Shuler (D-NC) introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (the "SAVE Act"). The Shuler bill, which now has over 139 co-sponsors takes a deportation-only approach to immigration reform. Anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4088, along with a who's who of the least immigrant-friendly members of Congress.

The bill will:

Target minor children and families for detention and mandate the creation of a new family detention center modeled after the infamous T. Don Hutto Facility;

Confiscate private land of citizens through eminent domain for building more fences which have already proven ineffective at curbing immigration;

Increase militarization of the border through additional body armor and firearms for agents; and impose a mandatory electronic employer verification program known as the Basic Pilot Program (re-branded as E-verify) on the entire American workforce. This highly controversial program lacks necessary safeguards to protect American workers from wrongful termination and improperly identify at least 2.5 million workers as ineligible for employment. The program would also destabilize the economy by immediately removing at least 7 million undocumented employees from the entire U.S. workforce at one time.









See if your Rep. is a Sponsor Here:


Your Representatives' phone number is online here:





Thursday, March 6, 2008

Students Lobby in D,C. for DREAM Act

Another group of high school students are headed to D.C. to lobby for the DREAM Act. This is good news because we cannot let Congress forget about the DREAM Act even on an election year. Read the article below and view the video at the end of the article.

Students head to D.C. to lobby for Dream Act

A group of 10 Tennessee high school students -- many the children of illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as long ago as 10 years -- embarked Wednesday on a journey to Washington D.C. in hopes of improving their future.

The group will join students from more than 30 states in lobbying federal lawmakers to pass a nearly seven year old bill that would grant them conditional legal status. The bill, known as the Dream Act, would clear the way for these students to earn legal residency and the ability to work if they graduate from college or serve in the armed forces. The bill, which has bipartisan support, is currently stalled in the Senate by a filibuster.

States are required to provide kindergarten though 12th-grade educations to students regardless of their legal status. Each year an estimated 65,000 undocumented students -- the number in Tennessee is unknown -- who have lived in the United States five years or more graduate from high school. Right now, these students can attend some Tennessee colleges and universities, but they are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid.

But as the students left Nashville with hopes that their stories of academic achievement in Tennessee would help convince federal lawmakers to pass the Dream Act, state lawmakers may raise new hurdles for the students.

A pair of bills introduced to the Tennessee House and Senate this year would specifically bar the state's public colleges and universities from admitting illegal immigrants. The bill's house sponsor plans to introduce it to a House Committee next week.

VIDEO: Hear what four students from Nashville have to say about their situation and the prospects of influencing lawmakers in Washington.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Washington Post Defends Immigration Articles

Immigration Coverage in the Crossfire
by Deborah Howell
Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page B06

Readers who oppose illegal immigration often complain that The Post has too much sympathy for those living in the United States illegally and too little for those who oppose such residents.

They prefer that The Post use the term "illegal alien" and are disturbed that they sometimes are called "anti-immigrant" when they say they do not oppose legal immigration. While the Post covers many immigrant groups, most of the coverage of illegal immigration has involved Hispanics in the suburbs because that's where the controversy is.

Leslie Wilder of Alexandria wrote last fall: "Am I the only one annoyed by The Post's constant glorification of illegal immigrants? Hardly a week goes by without either an uplifting or heart-rending article."

These readers also criticize The Post's editorial page, which has consistently opposed local attempts to suppress services for immigrants, but editorials are not in my purview and do not affect news coverage.

This issue has flared nationally and locally, especially in Herndon and in Prince William County, in Virginia, and in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, in Maryland. Several readers were upset about a Feb. 23 headline on the Metro section front: "Anti-Immigrant Effort Takes Hold in Md." A secondary headline made it clearer: "Grass-Roots Movement Expands Beyond Montgomery in Targeting the Undocumented."

John Mac Michael of Alexandria wrote: "Your recent article on growing opposition to illegal aliens (immigrants?) in Maryland once again used the familiar ploy of labeling those citizens who oppose illegal aliens as being 'anti-immigrant.' This is baloney. There is a clear difference between the two classes, and I certainly welcome those who are here legally."

The headline should have been more precise. The story also drew fire from pro-immigration activists who said it didn't make clear that most people appearing at a Mount Rainier City Council meeting favored declaring the city a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants. A correction was published.

My review of immigration stories, mostly local, over the past year and several months, showed that the coverage was mostly straightforward and informative. Because it is a huge issue, reporters throughout the Metro staff cover immigration, and three do so full time. Ashley Halsey, associate Metro editor, supervises the coverage.

A Jan. 10 story by staff writer N.C. Aizenman laid out particularly well how differently illegal immigrants and their opponents view breaking the law. A Washington Post-ABC News poll also gave national and local looks at what people are thinking.

A few "anti-immigrant" references have popped up in recent stories -- and shouldn't have. The Post also went astray in a March 18, 2007, story about a federal raid on a New England plant; the story reported on what happened to illegal immigrants swept up in the raid but never quoted immigration officials. I also worry that advocacy groups on both sides of the issue are quoted uncritically.

Readers are right that some journalists tend to write sympathetically about the underdog. But you cannot ignore the human story. "It's impossible to cover this issue without the challenges faced by people who are here illegally. We have tried not to be repetitive in those stories," Halsey said.

Have the views of those against illegal immigrants been fully told? My review included many stories quoting opponents -- as well as their march on the Mall last spring. Some feel they've been portrayed as racist and xenophobic. While some have been quoted expressing views that might be interpreted that way, most have not. Halsey said it has been "very challenging to write effectively about people opposed to illegal immigration, because they are very passionate and seem suspicious of our motives and are less welcoming to our attention when we try to talk to them about their motivations."

But there are stories that could be done that would give readers better context. How many legal immigrants are admitted to the United States every year and from what countries and in what categories? Do some racial or ethnic groups get more visas than others -- or tend to overstay visas more? There haven't been big immigration raids locally. Why? Do businesses that hire illegal immigrants think they won't be caught doing so?

Is it possible to quantify how illegal immigrants affect public school expenditures, crime and housing? Just how bad are the problems? Halsey said this is a daunting job, because trustworthy figures are hard to come by.

On terminology, Chip Beck, a State Department officer and former U.S. consul, believes it's important to use "illegal alien." Beck, who said he was not speaking for the State Department, said, "Foreign nationals who come across the border without papers or who overstay their visa are deemed 'illegal aliens.' Those are the legally correct terms. . . . The correct terminology is not derogatory but carries precise meanings under law." He sent a copy of the federal law that says: "The term 'alien' means any person not a citizen or national of the United States."

The Post does not use "alien" in news stories and prefers "illegal immigrant." Even if "alien" is legal terminology, to me, it sounds like someone from outer space. "Undocumented workers" is also discouraged. The Post stylebook says of "undocumented": "When used to describe immigrants, this is a euphemism that obscures an important fact -- that they are in this country illegally."

Deborah Howell can be reached at 202-334-7582 or atombudsman@washpost.com.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Politics of Immigration Weekly Round-up 02/18/08

CCIR: Coalition of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2008
CONTACT: Marisa McNee 917-733-2351

The Politics of Immigration Weekly Round-up 02/18/08

The buzz around immigration in the context of the presidential race quieted down a bit this week. Interestingly, the excitement was around Latino turn-out at the polls – the one segment of the electorate that has been undeniably energized by and against the hate interwoven in the immigration debate. For the GOP candidates hoping to capitalize from immigrant-bashing, immigration has been a flop at the polls.

As candidates continue traveling the country on the quest for the presidency, the Latino vote is proving to make the difference in some of the largest and most competitive primaries in 2008. One has to wonder how any political party that continues to fear-monger and demagogue the immigration issue could expect to win a national election alienating the Latino vote, and increasingly tiring the rest of the country awaiting for real solutions on this issue.

Read on for the weekly round up on the politics of immigration…

In the News

The Washington Post editorial page weighs in on the reality of immigration issue thus far in the 2008 election cycle:
“IN THE AFTERMATH of last summer's national debate over immigration reform, elected officials of all stripes were stunned by the popular passion and fury unleashed by the failed effort in Congress to provide an eventual path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Many Republicans concluded hopefully -- and many Democrats reckoned fretfully -- that immigration would be the premier wedge issue of the 2008 campaign. But with the presidential primaries in their homestretch, it now appears that both the hopes and the fears were overstated.”
Washington Post, Nativism's Electoral Flop, Feb. 14, 2008

And after yet another round of primary races last week the evidence continues to mount—the sleeping giant is most certainly alive and awake:
“In the Texas primary on March 4, one-quarter of the registered voters are Hispanic and the two Democratic front-runners are grappling for their support. For Sen. Barak Obama, Hispanic voters are key to gaining more momentum toward the nomination. For Sen. Hillary Clinton, Hispanics could reinvigorate a sagging campaign.

In Florida's own primaries last month, Hispanics pushed Sen. John McCain within striking distance of the Republican nomination. In the neck-in-neck Democratic race, Hispanic voters have stood solidly with Clinton, but may finally be flirting with the candidacy of Obama, who has enjoyed little support from them so far.”
“Political analysts and strategists have long watched the growing number of Latinos in the United States, predicting their political power. But until this year, Latinos have not gone to the polls in large numbers. Menendez said the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric that led to the defeat of the immigration bill is driving Hispanics to the polls…”
Florida Sun-Sentinel, Presidential Candidates Seek Support from Hispanics, Feb. 17, 2008
Spanish Language Press (Our Translation)
And the Spanish media was paying attention to McCain’s trajectory, and the potential for immigration reform in the context of what the presidential field is shaping out to be. Chicago’s La Raza newspaper had this to say about McCain…

“He has also gone against the current of his party in other things, and that is what makes him stand out from a group in which everyone wants to be more anti-immigrant than everyone else. And this is what is going to make the battle more interesting: John McCain was a co-sponsor of the Kennedy-McCain immigration reform bill, introduced in 2006 and that, even though it didn’t go anywhere, it laid the foundation for a broader discussion about comprehensive immigration reform during a dark period.

McCain is not representative of the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican party, that at this point is not a wing but the entire body, with some extremities that do better because they refuse to add to the xenophobic choir of those who insist, like Pete Wilson did, “that we are not ant-immigrant, only anti-illegals.” Those of us that listen know what they are in reality.”

“It is to say that McCain could help save the Republicans from themselves and from the damage that they have caused the fastest growing population of the United States. Of course immigration is not everything: Latinos also worry about the Iraq war, education, healthcare, and other issues that equally affect us all, regardless of race and origin.”
La Raza, The Figure of John McCain, Feb. 8, 2008

And Jorge Cancino at Univisión Online had this to say about immigration reform:

“The three leading candidates in the primary elections (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, for the Democrats, and John McCain for the Republicans), have something in common: they support immigration reform with a path to legalization.

It will be necessary to follow the developments of the primary elections until its known which candidates will be the nominees for the presidency in the November elections. There it will be possible to evaluate the probability of immigration reform. And the key date could be March 4th, when primary elections are held in the state of Texas, where an important percentage of Hispanic voters live.”
Univision Online, Immigration Reform has Probabilities: Clinton, McCain, and Obama Support It, Feb. 11, 2008

On the Blogs
Dave Neiwert has a second post of a three part series up at Firedoglake refuting the extremists in the immigration debate:

“The prescriptions offered by both the nativists and corporate conservatives are poisonous, likely to harm the body politic both culturally and economically, perhaps even at a catastrophic level.

There's a good reason for that: Much of the right -- the nativists particularly -- have been whipped up by scapegoating artists relying on a series of popular delusions that are built on a foundation of falsehoods and distortions. They are fundamentally untrue in important ways, so much so you can't properly call them "myths" -- "canards" or "popular delusions" would be more accurate.

The existence and persistence of these delusions is the chief reason progressives have largely been on the defensive when it comes to dealing with immigration. And it's an unfortunate fact: If they want to make any headway and forge their own approach to the debate, their first job is going to necessarily entail debunking the nativists' canards, and dispelling many of the popular delusions about immigrants. The public isn't going to follow a rational program if they continue to cling to old falsehoods.”

And Markos has a message for Democrats who want to run to the right on immigration: Psst Rahm? Immigration is killing Republicans

“We've seen the past two years the immigration issue doesn't decide elections, and that even a majority of Republicans aren't frothing in the mouth about it. To wit, Virginia, where Republicans based their entire 2007 off-year state legislative election strategy on demonizing immigrants, the primary exit polls for Republican voters, showed this (page two):

How to handle illegal immigrants
Path to citizenship: 26
Temporary worker: 28
Deport them: 44

That is, the most hard-core Republicans, the ones who bothered to turn out in a year when Republicans are mostly staying home, are more likely to support ways to keep undocumented immigrants in this country than they are to demand deportation.

Not that it's stopped Rahm Emanuel from continuing his efforts to the Democratic caucus to the right on the issue, obsessed with the notion that this is somehow a new "third rail" of American politics. But third rails kill. And if anyone is about to get burned by anti-immigrant sentiment, it's the GOP…

This is one of those great times that doing the right thing is also the best politics. Rahm's jihad against immigrants isn't based on the numbers. The numbers are clear. If he persists, there can be only one other explanation.”

Other Resources
• For a closer look at 2007 races, visit www.Immigration2007.org
• For a look at polling and public opinion on immigration and legalization, visit the National Immigration Forum’s website at www.immigrationforum.org
• For a look at the Latino electorate and the impact of the immigration debate, see NDN’s report, Hispanics Rising
• For a comprehensive look at the Latino electorate, see NCLR’s report The Latino Electorate: Profile and Trends

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Find Alternate Finances...

...That is what undocumented Arizona college students were told in recent letter. The Sunburst Scholarship, awarded $12,000 to around 207 Arizona DREAMERS who graduated from Arizona high schools, basically bringing the cost of tuition for these DREAMERS to in-state price, since they are now forced to pay out-of-state-tuition. Next year there will be no more Sunburst Scholarship.

In any normal universe, the Sunburst Scholarship would hardly be controversial. The students in question have done nothing wrong: Surely, Lou Dobbs wouldn't suggest that they should have defied Mom and Dad as 3-year-olds, or even third-graders, and vowed to stay in Mexico unless their parents obtained valid visas. (Well, okay, maybe Lou Dobbs would suggest that. Sigh.) In the loony anti-Mexican climate in Arizona today, though, the scholarships were truly an act of courage, and ASU President Michael Crow should be applauded for them.

But the demise of the Sunburst Scholarship raises real questions.

For one: When ASU realized the funding had run dry, why did it not contact leaders in the Hispanic community to come up with a transition plan? The activists I've talked to said they'd heard that the scholarships were being terminated only after getting calls from frightened students. Turns out the students learned they were being cut off in a letter from the school telling them to look for alternate financing for next fall. Clearly, this could have been handled with a bit more grace.

Here's another question: Just how hard did ASU work on getting donations for this scholarship? I haven't heard any direct requests for support. Granted, I'm not rich and not an ASU alum; I wouldn't blame anyone for leaving me off their fundraising list. But with an issue like this, you'd think a public plea would be in order — if nothing else, a story in the newspaper urging people to give. I can't find any evidence that ever happened. When we last heard about this issue, President Crow made it sound as though the matter was taken care of. ASU had found private funds. Period.

Which makes me wonder this.

Did ASU really run out of money? Or was it just easier not to raise it?

With legislators breathing hot air and an angry mob at the gate, it surely would be easier for ASU to cut 207 Mexican-born students adrift than to keep fighting.

"The fact that they're stopping these scholarships makes me feel like the pressure was greater than they could take," says Luis Avila, a local Latino activist and recent ASU grad.

I hope Avila is wrong about that. But I have to admit he may be on to something.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I saw this over at DREAM Act Texas, and I knew I had to immediately make a post about it. I'd like to applaud all the DREAMERS who took this initiative and have given all of us a voice.

Phoenix, Arizona
February 6, 2008

A compelling account of the struggle that students without legal status in
the U.S. are facing has taken the form of a bilingual book. Under the title of
Documented Dreams, the Arizona-based Hispanic Institute of Social Issues
(HISI) has published a collection of letters written by students from
Gateway Early College High School, and compiled by the school’s principal —
and 2008 ‘Living the Dream’ award recipient— Yvonne Watterson

The letters were written in response to the anonymous and generous
donations by people from the community, who made financial contributions
to help students unable to qualify for in-state tuition continue taking college
classes. The group of High School students then decided to write thank you
letters to show their appreciation.

Watterson revealed that after reading the letters from students, “a book
seemed the obvious way to capture forever their collective thanks. The
students wanted to thank the strangers who were making their continued
college education a reality. They could only convey their gratitude
anonymously, from the shadows.”

The idea for a book emerged simultaneously with the defeat in the U.S.
Senate of the Dream Act last Fall. Millions of students were hoping to
regularize their status and be able to continue with their education.

“Mrs. Watterson contacted us, we read the letters, and immediately jumped
into giving form to the book project”, stated Eduardo Barraza, HISI’s
director. “We recognize that we are living in a historical turning point;
publishing the students’ letters is an attempt to ensure we accurately
record history as it happens before our eyes, and in the voice of its
protagonists: the students themselves.”

Documented Dreams is a book of enormous human value, mainly because it
symbolizes the aspirations of millions of students caught in a sociopolitical
midpoint. The book will further contribute to the efforts of keeping students
taking college classes at this early college program, as it will be used as a
tuition fund-raising tool.

For further information visit www.hisi.org/books.html or call 480 – 983–

Book Details: Documented Dreams • Edited and compiled by Yvonne
Watterson • Photographs by Eduardo Barraza • ISBN: 978-0-9797814-3-8
• Paperback • Language: Bilingual in English and Spanish. $25.00 Minimum

Published by the Hispanic Institute of Social Issues © 2008


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bizarre Proposals

Bizarre Proposals To "End" Illegal Immigration
by Maurice Belanger of the National Immigration Forum

In 2007 our determined public servants on Capitol Hill outdid themselves coming up with new ways to target "illegal immigration," and make it the new fear-driven wedge issue of American politics. Following is a snapshot of some of the strangest and ugliest proposals drafted by Members of the 110th Congress thus far. Do they offer real solutions or simply false promises to end illegal immigration? You be the judge.

What Part Of "Legal" Don’t You Understand?

Leading anti-immigration Republican Tom Tancredo’s OVERDUE Act (H.R. 4192) is an overblown mishmash of bad immigration enforcement ideas and radical changes to our legal immigration system. Some of its most extreme provisions would all but end the legal family immigration system, severely restrict employersponsored immigration, and reduce the number of refugees we protect in the U.S. to just a trickle. While Representative Tancredo claims his goal is to end illegal immigration, it is hard to see how such dramatic cuts in legal immigration would do the trick. In fact, the Tancredo bill would probably have the opposite effect, since increased illegal immigration is directly tied to our outdated legal admissions quotas.

Department of State or Department of Genetic Testing?

Representative Tancredo’s H.R. 4192 contains other head-scratchers, like the section straight out of George Orwell's 1984 that would require anyone who qualifies for family-based legal immigration to give up a swab of their DNA to a government agent. Representative Tancredo was apparently so pleased with this— ahem—novel idea he even introduced it as a stand-alone bill, H.R. 3860.

All Most Some Persons Born or Naturalized?

Proposals like Representative Nathan Deal’s (R-GA) Birthright Citizenship Act (H.R. 1940) would gut the 14th amendment by denying U.S. citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. The amendment that granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized" in the U.S., including freed slaves, was aimed at eliminating second class "non-citizenship" policies. Not only are proposals like H.R. 1940 plainly unconstitutional, but it is absurd to think that creating more undocumented people would somehow reduce the number of undocumented immigrants.

No Visa, No VISA.

Undocumented workers have been accused of a variety of ills, but opening bank accounts and applying for credit cards were never on the list until Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced S. 2393. The Vitter bill would deny undocumented immigrants the American Dream of making purchases on credit. This, combined with a provision to end the nefarious practice of undocumented workers saving money in U.S. banks, would close a gaping loophole that has allowed so many of them to buy goods, pay sales tax, and help bolster the nation’s economy.

All Immigration, All the Time?

This year, Republican Members of Congress proved it is possible to turn any debate into a referendum on immigration when they targeted the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2786) with immigration-related riders. Amendments filed by Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Tom Price (R-GA) would have made sure no money in the bill could be used to hire or house undocumented immigrants (and even some legal residents). If only those provisions had been in place during the 17th century! But seriously, excluding the undocumented from employment and public benefits is already the law of the land. This was just a replay of the Republican "broken record" strategy of making every debate an immigration debate. Which leaves us taxpayers to wonder: when will it be time to put this onetrick pony out to pasture and get back to the People’s business?

No Immigration Check, No Farm Check.

This year, Republican Members of Congress and presidential candidates also made community policing a wedge issue, by railing against police departments that encourage crime victims and witnesses—even the undocumented—to work with the police and report crimes. In one of the most comical jabs at community policing, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) filed two amendments to the farm bill (S.A. 3707 and S.A. 3705) that would deny agricultural subsidies to farmers located in so-called "sanctuary cities." This phrase, which has become a dirty word in Republican circles, refers to cities and states that refuse to inquire about the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses. The Gregg amendments to the farm bill were a total non sequitur but did raise an interesting point: why are people in cities getting farm subsidies in the first place?

Bipartisan Bad Ideas.

Many immigration proposals introduced in the 110th Congress are supposed to reduce the undocumented immigrant population—estimated at 12 million or so— through enforcement alone. Dubbed "enforcement-first," "enforcement-only," or "comprehensive enforcement bills," these are actually "expulsion-only" bills, and offer no more of a solution to illegal immigration than the status quo. In 2007, Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC) teamed up with former anti-immigration lobbyist Representative Brian Bilbray (R-CA) to introduce H.R. 4088, a bill that would drive undocumented immigrant workers off our tax rolls but not en masse out of the country. The Shuler-Bilbray bill would push undocumented workers further into the shadows and into the arms of unscrupulous employers, creating ever-more-exploitable workers and putting wellmeaning employers out of business. Recycling the current failed immigration enforcement policies is hardly a recipe for change, whether the bill is bipartisan or not. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Senator David Vitter, have introduced companion bills (S. 2368 and S. 2366, respectively), making this a bipartisan, bicameral bust.

Solutions or Sound Bites? We Report, You Decide. Even Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), the uber-immigration hawk, would admit that rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants is a pipe dream (or the dream of someone smoking a pipe). It would take the government nearly fifty years and cost U.S. taxpayers over $200 billion just to carry out these deportations at the current (record-setting) rate. Yet one of the most popular Republican "solutions" to the problem of illegal immigration is to turn all 12 million undocumented workers into criminals. Bills sponsored by former House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) (H.R. 4056) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) (S. 2294) fall into this category. In addition to an expensive deportation, the Sensenbrenner-Kyl approach would treat these immigrants to a taxpayer funded criminal trial, court-appointed counsel, and a stay in a Federal prison before their flight out.

Want more unrealistic, budget-busting, sounds-tough immigration laws we have no chance of enforcing? Then pass these bills. If you want solutions, though, you’ll have to look beyond these shallow sound bites and silly proposals.