Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Barack Obama Responds vis a vis the Dream Act

A few days ago, I received an email from Senator Durbin regarding my inquiry about the DREAM Act. I thought it was an instructive email because it gives everyone a glimpse into the perspective of those that do not take illegal immigration seriously. Obama just responded as well and his email is quite similar.

Dear Michael:

Thank you for contacting me to share your views on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 2205). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

As an Illinois State Senator and a United States Senator, I have worked hard to improve our nation's immigration laws. For example, I strongly supported legislation before the Illinois State Senate that would have helped honest and hard-working immigrant students attend college by providing them with government loans to pay for tuition. In the U.S. Senate, I am an original cosponsor of the DREAM Act when it was first introduced in the 110th Congress as S. 774. This legislation would allow certain immigrant students to attend college and obtain legal permanent residency.

In order for an undocumented student to qualify and apply for conditional legal status under the DREAM Act, he or she would have to: have arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger; have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least five years; have good moral character; graduated from high school or obtained a GED in the U.S.; not have a history of criminal or terrorist activity; and be age 29 or younger when the DREAM Act is signed into law. The undocumented student would then be required to either serve in the military or attend college for at least two years within a six year time frame. If the undocumented student is able to meet all of these requirements within six years, he or she could then apply for legal permanent residency; if the student fails to meet all of these requirements, he or she would revert to illegal status and become deportable. This legislation offers hope and opportunity to young people who have chosen the right path and who want to become contributing citizens of the United States.

Unfortunately, in October, the DREAM Act failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in order to cut off debate on the measure. Failing to pass the DREAM Act only compounds the immigration crisis by continuing to drive thousands of young people every year into hiding.I will be sure to keep your views in mind if the DREAM Act makes it before the Senate floor for another vote.Again, thank you for writing, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Barack Obama

The first thing that should be obvious is the terminology for illegal immigrant. Obama will call an illegal anything before he will call them illegal. At one point, he simply refers to them as immigrants and at another point he refers to them as undocumented. Those are all euphimisms used by the writer to try and minimize the situation. Referring to illegals as illegal is a stigma that would rather not face. It is, unfortunately for the Senator, the truth however. Anyone that can't even bring themselves to call an illegal illegal is already suspect.

Now, when this bill was first introduced, I warned opponents that proponents would immediately try and appeal to our sympathies. At least Obama doesn't find an illegal and try and tell their sad tale. Instead, he tries to create empathy through generalization. He points out that the DREAM Act only affects those that came here illegally with their parents. He points out that it allows them to go to school and join the military, and he even tries to appeal to our reasonable side by pointing out all of the hoops they have to go through as well as the "severe" punishment for non compliance. The simple fact of the matter is that he is for a bill that gives legal status to those that came here illegally. That encourages more illegal immigration.

I notice that while Senator Obama was listing through the accomplishments he thought he had in regards to illegal immigration, there weren't any that involved enforcement or anything that would actually discourage illegal immigration. By doing a lot of work on illegal immigration, the Senator means doing everything he can to cater to law breakers. I have sympathy for those that came here illegally with their parents as well. That is why I would be more than happy if before they were deported, they also met with someone that would show them how to fast track their re entry. I would be all for a bill that absolves them of their crime when we look at their application upon re entry. I understand that it wasn't their fault that they entered the country illegally however they still did. Rewarding them with legal status only encourages more illegal immigration.

I would frankly be more than happy to revisit the DREAM Act when I am confident that the border is sealed and we have cut off employment access to illegals. At that point, the DREAM Act is the right thing to do and the compassionate thing to do. At this point, it puts compassion above reason and it is ultimately bad policy. Obama cannot get around that.

No comments: