Remain Calm! All Is Well!!!: Dream A Little DREAM
Posted April 26, 2012on:
“I’m in politics. I’m in government, so nothing surprises me.” Andrew Cuomo
I agree with Mr. Cuomo for the most part. That said, I am somewhat surprised at the speed of the ever-nimble Mitt Romney’s arabesque from a “severely conservative” position directly to the middle of the road. At least when it comes to immigration policy – we’re still in the primaries, and there are still some immigration-averse states such as Texas that have yet to weigh in. This is actually a pretty daring maneuver on Romney’s part at this stage of the game, but methinks he had decided to try to unring some rather clarion bells.
Lord knows, our immigration policy is a mess. We have people brought across the border for farm employment who simply never go home. We have people who come here on tourist visa who are still touring many years later. We have people who risk it all to cross the Mexican border, frequently more than once, in search if a better life. Some do not survive the trip. Dubya had a pretty wide-open “guest worker”policy under consideration, basically for his supporters in agri-business. The proposal flopped big-time, when his own party failed to embrace it.
Then there came the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors was drawn up specifically for the benefits of those who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. The bill was co-sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and was first introduced in 2001. This would basically allow any of the aforementioned minors to complete either at least two years of military service or two years at a college or university, then apply for legal residence. The DREAM has turned into a nightmare, especially for Orrin Hatch who faces in first primary challenge in almost four decades.
Any number of versions have danced their way through Congress. The latter versions require arrival in the United States prior to the age of sixteen, verified residency for at least five years prior to application, a high school diploma (or GED or have been admitted to college under some other unspecified criteria), be between the ages of twelve and thirty-five, and demonstrate good moral character. So far, no go on this one either.
Needless to say, Hispanics in general are less than thrilled with the Republican viewpoint that they should be swept from the nation. To be fair, Mitt Romney had one of the nicer proposals in his “self-deportation” plan, but there was still a rather amazing amount of xenophobic posturing for what is essentially a moot point: illegal immigration is down, and deportations under Obama are at the highest point in years. Yet he yammered on ad nauseum about vetoing the DREAM Act, and how Arizona should be a model for all states. Some of Arizona’s law is reasonable – the part about checking the immigration status of a detainee to see if ICE is looking for then – and some is not. (SCOTUS is working their way through it as we speak.) Needless to say, Mitt has painted himself into the far-right corner with a four-inch brush and is now wondering how the hell to get himself out. His campaign has been vociferously denying as much as they can, given the hyper-developed state of film clips these days, but all is not well.
Unsurprisingly, some rather nasty shocks have been present in the polling data. I have seen some on the teevee that show Obama ahead of Romney by some thirty points with Hispanic voters. Therefore, the candidate must find a way to kiss and make up with legal Hispanics – you know, the ones that vote.
Personally, I would have immediately fired Kris Kobach, the zealous author of the Arizona law. Nope, instead Mitt chose to keep Korbach and enlisted the help of Senator Marco Rubio, who has had a skirmish or two over immigration himself. It seems that Marco is now acting as an emissary to Hispanic Dems in Congress to see if they might work something out. Transparent much?
Anyhow, Rubio’s Republican version of the Dream Act would have basically the same framework, with one large exception – no pathway to citizenship. None, nada. Essentially, these kids can serve in the military, become college graduates, live here, pay taxes, and die here with no hope of becoming a citizen. Because of a poor decision made by their parents, the best that they can hope for is to become legal second-class non-citizens of the United States.
Needless to say, I have some problems with this plan. I have some problems with illegal immigration as well, but the DREAM kids did nothing wrong. Their parents came here illegally, and we have had a long-standing tradition of not visiting the sins of the father onto the child. I see no reason why this should differ. Further, Senator Rubio is Cuban, and our Cuban immigration policy continues to be “wet foot-dry foot”. In other words, if you can get at least one foot on dry land, the Coasties stop chasing you and you are now a legal resident complete with a Social Security card and any benefits – housing, SNAP, Medicaid – that you might require during your adjustment period. No other Hispanic nation enjoys these benefits, and Senator Rubio is well aware of that. Further, at least in South Florida, there is not a lot of love between the Cuban community and other Hispanics, and a large portion of this might just be the difference in immigration policies. Marco Rubio may not have been a stellar choice in this particular arena.
I also have a very large problem with creating a legal sub-strata of people. If we say that you’re okay, you should really be okay – legal and all. The military has a long history of expediting citizenship for its members, and I have to wonder if DREAM will supersede this practice, leaving the fates of men and women who are willing to defend our nation in a worse state than that which they currently enjoy. Personally, I’m completely in favor of citizenship for anyone who chooses to keep the country safe. Insofar as the educational option, I’m okay with legal residence. That said, I’m none too keen on an amorphous grey semi-legal status into which we pitch children who did nothing wrong in order to satisfy the Republican base. I suppose that it would be preferable to involuntary deportation, but that’s about all.
The initial DREAM Act enjoyed a measure of bipartisan support. Rubio’s version seems more calculated to making Romney’s dreams come true than filling a public need.
This is an open thread.
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