In life, we don’t scratch entire plans if they don’t align perfectly with our dreams. We adjust.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez has adjusted.
The fire-bellied Democrat from Chicago has declared that he’s ready to accept a “watered-down” version of the DREAM Act bill he’s been urging the passage of for the past decade.
The diluted version in question is, of course, the version Sen. Marco Rubio proposed earlier this year. There aren’t any real details in his plan to date (but “the journey of a thousand miles” and all that Confucian jazz).
“If [Sen. Rubio] brings forward a proposal, I am ready to work,” Rep. Gutiérrez stated in an interview with Fox News Latino. “I think the real fundamental question isn’t whether or not I am going to support it, because if he has got a proposal, I will work with Rubio.”
His proposal placed Rubio on the wrong end of a tremendous backlash from pro-immigrant advocates, who reject any such bill outright because it doesn’t provide DREAMers – children and young adults who might benefit from the bill – with a pathway to citizenship. OurTiempo.com editor Jose Cruz, writing for Being Latino, derisively called the Rubio bill “Dream Act Light,” and the New York Times labeled it “a DREAM Act without the dream,” describing it as “popular with [the GOP’s] hard-right base, but toxic with Hispanic voters.”
Admittedly, I felt the same way at the time. I’m certain I fired off a handful of tweets on how Rubio’s plan degrades the humanity of undocumented immigrants and how DREAMers have earned their right to citizenship by virtue of their sacrifices and achievements.
But, as even Gutiérrez admits, “My first knee-jerk reaction… [was to] say, ‘They are up to no good…. What are they up to, those Republicans? Let’s just reject that out of hand.’”
Nonetheless, I personally know enough undocumented immigrants to realize that the initial left-wing opposition to a watered-down version of the DREAM Act isn’t in the best interests of the undocumented themselves.
Yes, DREAMers, people who were brought to this country as children and have led American lives ever since, dream of one day reciting the Oath of Allegiance while friends and family members wave tiny American flags. But, any opportunity to provide such people with driver’s licenses and work permits is simply too golden to toss out – even if it doesn’t come with a path to citizenship attached.
Gutiérrez lays out the case for progressive support for a watered-down bill toward the close of the interview:
“I got citizenship. My kids got citizenship…. I don’t fear the federal government. I don’t fear one day disappearing from my family’s life, or my children disappearing from my life…. Who am I to stand by and say, ‘Oh, I got to get something perfect’? I got to stop them from being deported.”
That’s what progressives need to remember when they’re drawing the line at a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers: most undocumented immigrants would settle for much less, because it’s tons more than what they have now.
The undocumented aren’t demanding the right to vote or become president of the United States. They only want the right to drive a car and earn a living.
Any law that would provide them with that would be counted as a victory.