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Can A Lame Duck Give Birth To An American D.R.E.A.M.?

The struggle for immigration reform in the United States has been a long, tumultuous battle that has been marked by legislative deadlock and caustic rhetorical skirmishes. This salient issue is polarizing for a plethora of reasons, much of which deals directly with politics. The sparring that has taken place on the congressional floor is just as related to policy as it is to varied interests of the politicians themselves. However, it seems like both the Democrats and Republicans are on their way to claiming a ceasefire (the World War I type where they halt the squawking to observe the holidays) to mobilize around giving undocumented citizens of “good moral character” a path to citizenship. Finally Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner will be able to sing kumbaya while they drink tequila on Cinco De Mayo. Isn’t it a lovely picture? Barring the cultural stereotypes of that image, I am excited! Maybe this lameduck session won’t be so lame after all.

Marco Rubio, winner of the U.S. Senate race in Florida, ran on the theme of living the American Dream. Whenever Rubio stood at a podium to deny structural inequalities discuss personal responsibility, he always referenced the story of his Cuban parents that were exiled. Not only did his narrative pull at the heartstrings of Florida voters, it also spoke to a greater issue. Although the Republican Party hasn’t traditionally stood in favor of liberalizing the path to citizenship for immigrants, in order to woo the rapidly growing Latino voting bloc back to their side, they needed to actually cater to their interests.

Although Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has been fighting tooth and nail to push the DREAM Act (Development Relief, Education for Alien Minors) through committees for almost 5 years, there have been many objections. One of the most commonly cited objections was the fact that many legislators felt that the bill was not germane to defense matters, therefore it wasn’t even worthy of leaving the committee and going on the floor for a vote. But what a difference a costly war and out of control spending make. It seems like a depleting military and profligate spending in the Pentagon have prompted GOP-ers to be more lubby dubby with Hispanics.  Even John Boehner is expected to hold his nose and vote in favor of the legislation.

The DREAM Act is a proposed piece of federal legislation that seeks to give certain inadmissible or deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning.

Although I’m a big proponent of national security, I hope that the beneficiaries of this bill are not pressured to join the military over college. While I have the utmost respect for our brave men and women who valiantly serve our country, I am also aware that we need just as many scholars, artists, and entrepreneurs as we do sergeants, generals, and lieutenants. Many of those folks will come from the crop of brilliant and talented undocumented minors in this country. I have a DREAM that a bill will be passed that will give many hard working youngsters a shot at the American DREAM, which will ultimately turn our DREAMS into realities.


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