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The Backdoor DREAM Act

President Obama’s recent decision to defer deportation of young people means that many youth might not have to worry about being deported anytime soon.  It means that many of the principles that had been incorporated into the DREAM Act will be implemented directly by the president, even though it failed to pass through Congress as a law.  For those who had to be convinced, the DREAM Act was desirable, because many children never made a conscious decision to break any immigration law. Instead, they were brought by their parents.

Many mistook my position of the DREAM Act, thinking that I was against it.  I was not against it.  I was against some of the provisions in some of the later versions of the act.  I objected strongly to the limited options for youth to qualify.  In my opinion, it has stringent college requirements, which were not a reality for most migrant youth.  The other option was military service.  In my calculation, such few options amounted to a de facto draft.  I was also concerned that it would exacerbate existing classism within our community.

I often brought these points up only to be told that my ideas were unrealistic, even though Rep. Luis Gutierrez had crafted proposals which would have broadened the requirements to include many more undocumented youth.

Lo and behold, with a stroke of the pen, the president creates a backdoor DREAM Act which only has a high school or GED requirement.  I think that as this conversation fades, we should all take away the idea that a broad DREAM Act is possible.  A DREAM Act that includes the majority of undocumented youth, not just the 1% elite, is something that we should never compromise in the future.  I pray that we will never go back to the old mentality that just college grads and soldiers should be included.

I can fully support a DREAM Act that includes high school grads.  It’s not perfect.  I would like to see a community service option, but this is a compromise that I would actively support as best I could.

Still I have concerns.

Concerned with CIR

I believe that if a DREAM Act like this passes, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will likely be a dead issue for at least ten years.  I hope otherwise, but this is my calculation.  Still, I’m willing to take a chance.  In the long run, even if CIR might die for five to ten years, I think we will win in the longer term with a DREAM Act similar to this one.  It won’t solve all of our problems, but it’s enough of a short term gain that I would support it.

Concerned with seduction

The biggest problem that I have is the reaction in our community.  Yes, this is a positive development.  It should be acknowledged, and those that have fought the good fight have the right to celebrate and are owed congratulations.  But this is nothing more than an election-time ploy…pandering.  It is now evident to all, not just activists, that Obama could have done this his first year, as he had promised.  Instead, he has deported more people than Bush.  This is a play out of the political handbook.  But when people suddenly find themselves “proud” or “respectful” of this man, they are allowing our community to be tricked.  He used has as a political football that he passed at the last minute before re-election.  Fine, take the pass, but don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the owner of the team.  The owners need good players more than the players need good owners.  He needs us more than we need him.  He has just smacked us around so long that we can’t see straight.

Concerned with future deportations

Finally, I’m concerned that this battle victory is not a victory for the war.  This is a stop-gap measure.  It is a short term and not a final solution.  I hope that this does not cause complacency among the activists and the migrant population.  This could all be for naught in only a few years.

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