Encouraging move for two brothers
OUR OPINION: SENATE SHOULD PASS DREAM ACT FOR BROADER BENEFIT
Posted on Thu, Sep. 20, 2007
A private bill filed by Sen. Chris Dodd this week will allow Juan and Alex Gomez to sleep easy by preventing their deportation for more than a year. This is a relief for their many supporters. It also is an encouraging sign that reason might yet prevail in Congress in at least one small area of immigration reform: allowing promising youths like the Gomez brothers to earn their legal status and give back to the country that nurtured them.
This is what the Dream Act would do, and the Senate should seize the chance to approve this broader measure quickly.
The Gomez brothers were ages 2 and 3 when they were brought to this country by their parents, who overstayed their visas. Juan, 18, excelled academically at Killian High School. Alex, 19, was better at sports. Their popularity is a testament to the brothers' assimilation and good character.
Credit Juan's friends for organizing an Internet campaign, lobbying Congress and shining a spotlight on the Gomez's plight. The effort gained national attention and sympathy, not only for the brothers but also for the Dream Act.
The private bill by Sen. Dodd, D-Conn., filed earlier in the House by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, would allow the Gomez brothers to legalize. But the issue is much bigger. Other worthy undocumented teenagers face the same predicament nationwide. Some excelled in ROTC in high school, only to find out they can't join the U.S. military. Others won science and math awards, yet can't qualify for college financial aid.
The Dream Act would offer residency to youths who arrived here before age 16, graduate from high school, keep a clean record and complete two years of college or military service. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., plans to attach the Dream Act to a defense funding bill that is being debated this week. We hope he succeeds.
Some critics say that's an inappropriate move. But there is a valid nexus given the Dream Act's potential to boost military recruiting. For years legal immigrants have been able to speed their naturalization by joining the military. That's one reason a disproportionately higher number of immigrants have honorably served in our armed forces.
Other critics exaggerate the impact saying the Dream Act would legalize one million illegal immigrants. But a nonpartisan group estimates no more than 280,000 youths to be eligible now.
The divisive defeat of comprehensive reform in April has polarized the immigration debate. The broad bipartisan and national support for the Dream Act is more reflective of its merit. Lawmakers such as Messrs. Diaz-Balart, Dobbs and Durbin should be commended for sponsoring good legislation.
For link to Miami Herald editorial click title of this post