Guest Column: The Dream is Alive - By Tom Roach
Words from my friend Tom Roach, an immigration lawyer in Pasco, Washington (www.roachlaw.com)
President Barack Obama recently signed an executive order that will give an estimated 800,000 young people who are illegally in the U.S. "deferred action" status and a work permit. That was a bold thing for the president to do; it was also a good thing for him to do.
The beneficiaries of this new policy must meet the following criteria: have been brought to the U.S. before they were 16 years of age; prove they have been here continuously for the past 5 years; have graduated from high school, completed a G.E.D., or be presently enrolled in high school or a G.E.D. program. In addition, they must be at least 15 but less than 31 years of age and not have been convicted of any serious crimes.
The anti-immigration crowd--Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the others--call it "back door amnesty". I call it common sense.
I have practiced immigration law in eastern Washington--farm country--for the past 29 years. In that time I've met hundreds of these kids. My guess is that Rush, Sean or Glenn have never met one.
Last year I met Maria (not her real name). She was her high school senior class president and is now enrolled at University of Washington. I know Guadalupe who had no government loans and recently graduated from Gonzaga University. Just last month José was in the office. He completed his architecture degree at Washington State University, again without a nickel of government help.
These kids are bright, tenacious, undeterred and in the U.S. illegally. And, as hard as it is for the "antis" to picture it, these kids are a significant part of the future of America.
They were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were just kids. They have zero culpability for the predicament they find themselves in. They've been educated at taxpayer expense, they've completed or are in high school, they have clean records and they are good kids-- just like their native-born citizen classmates. They are going to be the taxpayers who can help save our decrepit Social Security and Medicare systems. The U.S. is the only place that they know as home.
The idea of throwing out 800,000 clean cut "All-American" kids who are on the verge of making significant contributions to this country is the height of asininity.
We should applaud Barack Obama for doing the right thing on this issue. Sure there was a political calculation in his executive order, but politicians are known for doing things for political reasons. Polls show that fully two-thirds of Americans support this "DREAM Act-Lite" Proposal.
The response from the Republicans to the "Deferred Action" proposal has been predictable. Virtually none have endorsed it and most oppose it. Mitt Romney criticizes it by saying it's "short term" and "not comprehensive".
I ask the Republicans: What ever happened to "compassionate conservatives" who can see the value in a proposal like this? What ever happened to practicality? What ever happened to common sense?
The Republicans have been saying for years that only when we gain control of the border should we consider legalizing the people here. Well, that day has arrived. The last 2 years have seen the fewest number of people trying to cross our southern border in forty years.
So, if there was ever an element in the immigration debate that can serve as a catalyst to move this issue forward, it is the President's DREAM ACT Deferred Action policy.
The American people support it, the Democrats support it and it's time for Republicans to approach the immigration issue in an adult fashion and support this initiative, too.