By Linda Vega
In 1990, the Republicans sought to make right the exclusion of young children from the amnesty that had been passed in 1986 by President Reagan’s first round of the Life Act. Headed by Republican Senator Orin Hatch, from Utah, the idea of the Dream Act was born. Even then, Republicans were looking at the Long Term importance of the Latinos in the Party. The “idea” back then focused on education and internships for the young who were virtually excluded in the first round of “amnesty.” This version was to help stimulate the economy and it did. Unemployment was at a low at 7.0 and then dropping to 5.3. As a result, the Life Act passed with a large majority. Coupled with tax cuts at the time, the economy boomed. The Republicans at that time were not taken seriously on the idea of investing in the youth, though.
In 2000 and 2001, the Life Act came to life under the law of the INA, under what is called 245(i) in our profession. Again the idea of “amnesty” came to the public via the low unemployment rate at 4.0 where it remained for the next few years. The idea was to allow foreign investment to come help stimulate the economy as U.S. jobs were not a threat. And so this “amnesty” was again considered and passed overwhelmingly. Again, the U.S. economy soared. And again, Senator Orin Hatch led the way for A Dream Act, but was not taken seriously; hence, the investment in the Latino youth stifled. Not even the liberal administration came to the rescue.
Twenty years later, those youth in 1990 are now about 30 years of age. Those who have been able to adjust and become Legal Permanent Residents have done so. How did those youth become “legal?” Many of these youths are still unmarried so that they could adjust under their parent’s application. Others have married U.S. Citizens and have adjusted their status. Yet many of them are still waiting for their Visas to become available. They have followed the law but are unable to obtain a work permit or attend school. They are the undocumented that many call “illegals.” They are not able to adjust because although their applications are approved, they have turned 21 years of age (in immigration law this is a perilous age for a child to turn) and so they must now wait and wait for their visa to become available. They have followed the law but are in limbo.
Those who have managed to survive this obstacle course, are now U.S. Citizens and are able to vote. These are the citizens created by President Reagan’s first round of amnesty. Those who were eligible for the 2001 Life Act amnesty are barely coming through the ranks to become Legal Permanent Residents. What does this mean? None of these so called Amnesty accounted for the many youth that the Republican Senators were trying to warn us about with Life Act legislation.
None of these laws accounted for the working pool that is now available to become part of the U.S. These are the many that have fallen through the “cracks” and have become the undocumented pool. Now there are also those who crossed over without inspection (illegally), but many from the 2001 Amnesty cannot even get a work permit because the LAW FAILED at what it was supposed to do, which was to help the U.S. economy in the long run. Many of these U.S. citizen children were born here in the U.S. to undocumented parents who are still awaiting their turn under the “amnesty” that many decry. These are the ones many seek to deport or electrocute on fences. They followed the law and applied, but we failed them and their children.
To those who cry out for the Dream Act and nothing else: You live in a dream world. The time for caring for our young and their rights under the same slogan has passed. There is no vision to encourage work because when a candidate like Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry does see the long term benefit for the economy and America when they advocate for the youth, they are strangled with being anti-conservative. The idea of just protecting the family and the youth is not strong enough to convince as history would show even when the Republicans lead the fight.
In order to begin to solve the web of deceit and lies of hope, let’s settle on the truth that the Dream Act, as it is tossed around at present, is just a dream. Tough conservative publication like The Economist, and the Wall Street journal support a type of Dream Act and its economic benefits. Similarly, the CBO projects that a type of Dream Act would increase revenues by $2.3 billion over 10 years. And it is true that the economic benefit that we as a nation are to gain by helping the youth and those who were deceived should be of great consideration for the Republicans. But when those groups that are professional activists acting like “militant clowns,” shout Dream Act or nothing, imagine someone shouting fire in a crowded room. They are misleading the youth with this draconian uninformed shouting. They fail to realize that the Dream Act legislation in its current form is a kiss of defeat as it stands. Just the name creates political gridlock.
There is malice behind some these people when they demand Dream Act or nothing. Their notion is to hurt the U.S., the Latino Community, the Latino youth, and any idea of Immigration Reform by creating the idea that there is no room for compromise. Like Romney and Santorum who fail to make the connection of Immigration Reform to the Economy, these groups are misleading not only the youth but America. If the economy is not important enough to withstand the idea of compromise, then it should not matter who wins. I believe Mitt Romney and Rich Santorum do not understand the terms of immigration or the economy. The only candidate who has a vision is Newt Gingrich who understands the connection between Immigration Reform and Economic recovery. He was, after all, available and involved in the times when the U.S. boomed in the economy and “amnesty” programs that triggered this boom passed. Those who shout the fire mantra, need stay put and away from any hope for reform. Because of your lack of knowledge on the subject matter, your voice is smothered into non-credibility like those candidates who shout that the Dream Act is Amnesty. It is not, but because of your misleading militant voice it remains, just a dream.
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