The need for the DREAM Act to open more doors for undocumented youth reached a new level. 18-year-old Joaquin Luna, an aspiring Engineer, committed suicide in Texas because, as an undocumented citizen, he felt he was trapped in a society which did not want him to advance and be happy. Returning to his country of origin was a problem as he has lived in the United States. Obtaining a job is a problem because he does not have legal residency. Going to college wasn’t an option because of the lack of scholarship money and the applications. Out of resources, this youth took his life. This illustrates that people are literally dying over the American dream. Most Americans would think that fighting for your rights is over because we prosper in a country with a fair (for the most part…) government which protects our rights (most of the time). The fight for the American dream isn’t over yet. In fact, there are people fighting and dying still within our borders. It is the nationality of those people which has blinded Americans in believe that their strife is different from American citizens’. Rest in Peace Joauin.
There has been a recent news story about an 18 year old high schooler in Mission, Texas who killed himself because of his status as an illegal alien. He reportedly ended his life because of his overwhelming fear that he would not be able to go to college (because he has no social security number and cannot, therefore, apply for loans) and never be able to support his family because of it. He wanted to be an engineer and he worked hard throughout his years in high school only to make it to his senior year and realize that this is where his dreams ended. Any hope he had was dashed when the Dream Act failed in Texas by 5 votes (1).
Don’t get me wrong, I am on the con side. I see the problems with the law. The supporters may not call the Dream Act amnesty, but it sure looks that way to everyone else. And there are American born children who need that money more than they do…but at the end of the day, we are all human. The same blood flows through all of us and when people, children especially, begin to feel so discouraged that they kill themselves, that they see no other way out than to take their own life, we should start thinking about humanity in general, and less about nationality.
America is the land of dreams, a lot of people have seen their every hope and desire come true here. A lot of those same people took advantage of the system and exploited the country as best they could. We give these opportunities to greedy (narcissistic) people like this, so why not extend a helping hand to people who truly deserve it, and would use it well?
A new survey by the Los Angeles Times indicates that the there is a serious ethnic divide between those who support and do not support the DREAM Act. Overwhelmingly, 79% of Latinos support this bill while only 30% of whites support this bill. The study claims that this divide is found because of the cost of attending in state universities. Almost half of those surveyed stated that the cost of in-state universities is almost unaffordable. Because of this, tax and bill payers feel that those who are not citizens should not take away the financial aid from those who are citizens. According to this survey, it almost appears that the ethical argument of offering illegal immigrants access to universities has disappeared, and the debate has turned into one regarding scarce and expensive resources, namely education.
On Election day 2011, President of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce, was officially recalled and replaced by a fellow Republican, Jerry Lewis.
Russell is most known for his sponsorship of Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law, which, according to the Arizona State Legislature, “requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties.”
Arizona’s law has inspired similar legislation across the country, most notably in Alabama, which passed a law in September that has been deemed the strictist law in the nation.
It will be interesting to see what the reprecussions of Pearce’s recall are in Arizona with some of his fellow supporters in Arizona up for reelection in 2012 and if his recall will have reprecussions nationally.
Pearce will be replaced by Jerry Lewis, “a charter school executive who is fluent in Spanish, said he would be more amenable to compromise, on immigration and everything else, than the man he is replacing.” His views on SB1070 and Russell Pearce are:
It is also worth noting that Jerry Lewis is a member of Mesa’s influential Mormon Church. I wonder what effect this will have on the debate over whether the United States can elect a Mormon president, like Mitt Romney.
As we talked about previously, the Dream Act was passed here in California not too long ago. Since then, angry citizens have been putting together a petition to put the overturning of the law on the ballot in the upcoming 2012 elections. There are many supporters of this law being overturned: the petition only recently came out but there are almost 10,000 volunteers enthusiastic about it already. The petition has until January 6 to get 700,000 signatures so that it can go onto the ballot. This shouldn’t however be too much of a problem since there many angry parents and students who think that it is unfair for undocumented students to qualify for financial aid, while they, for whatever reason, do not.
The petition would put the law on the ballot and also halt its implementation until we vote on it in the elections.
Alabama’s new immigration law has garnered recent criticism from one of young America’s most popular news sources, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
Alabama’s new immigration law, put into place on September 28, 2011, is considered to be “the strictest in the nation.” Alabama’s new “law requires police to check the immigration status of suspects and turn illegal immigrants over to federal authorities. It requires school officials to demand birth certificates from students enrolling for the first time, though the schools may not turn students away. It forbids illegal immigrants to engage in business transactions with state government” (LA Times-10/8/2011)
As Stephen Colbert learned last year, migrant labor is hard work. He worked as migrant worker for 1 day and testified before Congress on a hearing about passing a bill that would provide services to farmworkers. Commenting on Alabama’s law, Colbert harps about being afraid that he might not be able to eat his BLTs in the future because there will be no farmworkers to pick the tomatoes.
Tomato farmers in Alabama employ thousands of illegal immigrants to pick their crops, but with the passage of the new law, their crops are rotting waiting to be picked. Proponents of the law might say that this measure could help lower the unemployment numbers in Alabama. But as the tomato farmers attest to in the video and in the articles, nobody wants to do the work. Farmers have tried hiring locals but there aren’t nearly as many workers “ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. According to one local business owner, “Some of them work out a little bit. Some might work three hours and they quit.” To quell the consequences of the new law, some business owners have resorted to using prison inmates to do their fieldwork, but that’s not going very well for them either.
Hopefully, the rest of the states and the federal government learn from the consequences of Alabama’s before enacting their own immigration reform policies. Stephen Colbert sums up America’s hypocrisy best: “to preserve our precious BLTs, we must do whatever it takes, other than offer these people any rights.”
It appears as if Governor Perry is both aiding illegal immigration while trying to stem the flow. He did support a state-wide provision of in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, but he has also increased border enforcement and supported Arizona’s SB1070 (See link below). Governor Perry makes the claim that he can be both hard and soft. He is soft because he feels that if you do not support educating the youth that arrives in the country at no fault to themselves, then you do not have a heart. This is a highly controversial point. If allowing illegal immigrants free in-state tuition was a simple matter of heart, wouldn’t the whole country be on board? Wouldn’t it be an obvious human rights issue? For example, there exists people in the US that are a single parent family with three children. That single parent looses their job. Now there is no one to care for this family, no one to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table. This heartbreaking story contributed to the creation of unemployment benefits. It is a benefit offered by almost every country. Providing tuition to illegal immigrants is not the same “heart” issue. What about providing tuition, scholarships and financial aid for legal citizens? Isn’t that a matter of heart? Is it not possible to say that if you don’t provide for your own citizens and instead push money towards people of other nations who break laws you do not have a heart?
This past weekend Governor Brown signed the Dream Act into law. The law has two parts, the first of which passed in July and allowed the undocumented students to receive private scholarships, and the second of which passed this Saturday, allowing them to receive state financial aid for public schools (1). The Dream Act in California is different from the federal version in that it doesn’t have a program set up to eventually grant citizenship to the student. It’s basically the same law without the amnesty. The benefits of this law passing have already been stated: everyone deserves a fair chance, it wasn’t their fault their parents came into the country illegally, and they should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. But in a state that has so many issues with its public schools, from the budget to the oversized classes, one should wonder if passing this law was the right choice. Classes, with legal citizens alone, already fill up so quickly that its now becoming common practice for students to spend five or six years getting their four year degree. An extra 2,500 students (the number of undocumented students thought to be helped by this Act) is going to strain an already failing system. And this goes for the budget as well. Tuition is being raised and programs are being cut. We can’t afford maintaining the schools as they are now, how can we possibly do it with all these extra students? Before we start to include hard working illegal students in our public schools, before we start trying to be “fair” to them, we need to be fair to our hardworking American students, whose tuition is being raised, who have to spend an unnecessary amount of extra time in school because the class they need to graduate is too full. While it is true that the students affected by the Dream Act would only receive $14.5 million out of a $1.4 billion budget (2), that’s money that could help a student out there struggling currently. Colleges are there to help us reach the American Dream. Let’s give Americans a chance to reach it before we give their opportunities away to citizens of a different country.
This is an interesting article about Rick Perry and his stance on immigration.
He has been criticized by fellow Republican candidates for implementing a law in 2001 that allowed undocumented immigrants to enroll in public Texas universities and receive in-state tuition if they met certain requirements (similar to those of the federal DREAM Act).
He continues to support his decision which may resonate well with Hispanic voters, however he says he won’t support a federal DREAM Act and claims that America must secure its borders before we tackle the immigration issue.
The Hispanic vote is going to be a key constituency in the upcoming election and I think it would be to Rick Perry’s benefit to embrace his 2001 law, for that would garner him support in the Hispanic community and among Independents.