Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GOP is Looking for Trouble

At its own peril, GOP opposes DREAM Act

By Linda Chavez | Monday, December 13, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Op-Ed

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which provides a path to citizenship for those children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, passed the House by 216-198 last week, but may die in the Senate for lack of bipartisan support.

For all the loose talk of “amnesty” in the immigration debate, proposals to grant a path to legalization for adult immigrants who entered or remained in the United States illegally were never true amnesty. The Bush plan included hefty fines for all transgressors - which, by definition, is not amnesty - as well as requiring them to pay back taxes, undergo criminal checks, learn English and go to the back of the citizenship line.

But the DREAM Act is amnesty in the most meritorious sense. Many of those eligible to participate came as babes in arms or as young children. While their parents committed a civil offense - not a criminal one, as many people seem, wrongly, to believe - the kids had no choice in the matter. Nonetheless, this amnesty would not be automatic; it would be earned. Only those who successfully completed at least two years of college or military service would be eligible - and they would have to show good moral character.

Do Republicans really want to tell young people who’ve lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield: “We don’t want you”?

What are the alternatives - let them continue to live in the shadows or deport them? Not even the most aggressively anti-immigration groups are calling for the latter.

A number of Republicans who previously supported the legislation - including one of its chief authors, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah - have decided it is too risky to vote for it now. But the real risk is to the future of the Republican Party.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called for a “zone between deportation and amnesty” for illegal immigrants, which would allow them to work in the country. Gingrich is a rock-hard conservative, but he recognizes that the hard line that has come to dominate the GOP’s stance on immigration poses problems for the future of the party, and he’s recently launched an outreach to Hispanics. That zone should encompass a path to legalization for the most worthy among illegal immigrants.

The refusal of all but a tiny handful of Republicans to vote for the DREAM Act will become a future nightmare. Hard-line anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric has already cost Republicans at least two U.S. Senate seats, Nevada and Colorado , even in a GOP landslide election. It could well cost Republicans the White House in 2012 - the Democrats are betting on it.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view.bg?articleid=1302641

From the Huffington Post

Jeff Biggers
Jeff Biggers
Author, "Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland"
Posted: December 7, 2010 04:38 PM
While Texas Gov. Rick Perry and a gaggle of legislators hark back to 19th century glory and introduce proposals to reclaim their state's "sovereignty" over federal laws this week, long-time political activists in Texas and across the country are recognizing the galvanizing impact of DREAM Act activists and student hunger strikers on the future.
Now bogged down in the lame duck Congress over political maneuvers more than merits, the proposed DREAM Act would provide an opportunity for permanent residency for certain minors who had been brought into the country without documentation after a stringent 10-year waiting period and completion of a 2-year degree or military service...more

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