Editorial: discrimination crushes dreams of the deserving

the Oak Leaf

Most Americans are descendants of immigrants. We don’t think anyone would say their ancestors were lazy or undeserving of the opportunities they gained from their long journey to a foreign and sometimes harsh land.

On Sept. 21, the Senate did not pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors [DREAM] Act, an amendment to a defense spending bill that would provide green card status to undocumented immigrants who entered the country between the ages of 5 and 16, have been in the country for at least five years, have received a high school diploma and plan to go to college or serve in the military for at least two years. Approximately 800,000 minors would have been eligible for citizenship under the act.

This is the second time Congress has denied the Dream Act; it fell short of passage three years ago, but returned as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. The bill also included an amendment to overturn “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The bill was six votes short of the 60 it needed.

By rejecting the DREAM Act, the Senate is rejecting those who contribute productively to society, simply because they do not fit a certain mold.

It is discriminatory to limit people’s opportunities for something they have absolutely no control over. Those who would qualify to benefit from the DREAM Act had no legal say over whether or not to come, and many were literally carried over borders and onto ships.

Some may say it is ludicrous to simply “hand out” green card status to these illegal immigrants, and tacking it onto a defense spending bill may not be the best way to pass the legislation, but one thing is for certain: the people that this act would grant citizenship have certainly earned their keep.

Many undocumented minors have been here since kindergarten and grew up in the public school education system with other American children. Children and teens who speak English, play Little League and get good grades. Is it fair to send them back to their parents’ country, a place as alien to them as America was to their parents? We don’t think so.

The Oak Leaf supports the dream for all and the chance at a life in the place we all call home. Many college students and graduates are now in danger of being deported. Its supporters have described the DREAM Act as a pathway for talented, courageous children whose opportunities are closed because their parents are here illegally.

Every wave of immigrants to the U.S. has been treated the same. Regarded as lazy, unwanted and dangerous to American society, they have been shunned and taken advantage of while expected to follow American laws and fight in American wars.

The Irish, Germans, Chinese, Italians and every other group of unwanted immigrants were greeted with disdain and intolerance. Now, we look back on our ancestors with pride, and are happy to claim our ancestors’ perseverance as our legacy. But the cycle continues, while our inability to see the similarities between our prized ancestors and the undocumented workers of today allows injustice to prevail.