Undocumented immigrants and their allies are divided on how to move forward with immigration reform.
From Huff Post Latino Voices:
“Nearly 600 would-be Dream Act beneficiaries and their allies, who helped in a successful push earlier this year for relief for undocumented young people, gathered in Kansas City, Mo., this weekend to determine their path forward.
They settled on a new priority: comprehensive immigration reform that would help the entire undocumented population, not just those who came to the United States as children. …
‘[Comprehensive immigration reform] versus the Dream Act, or comprehensive versus piecemeal, is really a false choice,’ United We Dream managing director Cristina Jimenez said on a call with reporters Monday. ‘That’s the way that politicians in D.C. want to frame this debate, but the local leaders of United We Dream have really decided to set our own terms for this debate.’ …
Dreamers won’t accept a piecemeal approach, United We Dream members said. They want aid for undocumented immigrants in general, and more specific provisions that address driver’s licenses, college tuition and health care for immigrants. They said they will also push for an end to Obama administration-run enforcement programs such as Secure Communities that they say are damaging to the immigrant community.”
Now that immigration reform has become a bipartisan concern following Obama’s successful reelection did — during which he promised to reform the immigration system and the Latino vote carried the Democratic ticket to victory nationwide — the members of United We Dream believe they can and should hold out for something better than DREAM Act, Achieve Act, or any other form of piecemeal reform.
The nerve of such people, so-called supporters of immigrants and their families.
Sure, undocumented immigrants want all the same rights as everybody else in this country, but believe you me, they’d settle for three small provisions: legalized status, a driver’s license, and a right to work.
Most DREAMers I know didn’t scoff at Senator Marco Rubio’s proposal for a diluted DREAM Act back in March. And Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) was in the right when he showed interest in Rubio’s idea.
This was Gutiérrez’s reasoning at the time — and I hope it still stands today:
“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.”
A lot of DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants are probably crabbed over Republican gestures like the Achieve Act, plans that provide less benefits than the DREAM Act would and make applicants jump through more hoops to secure legal status.
But it’s better than nothing. And should something like the Achieve Act pass today, we’d see a million DREAMers — Achievers, technically — line up tomorrow and apply for the lousy thing. Because the undocumented don’t want to wait for a perfect bill with perfect provisions, nor can they afford to. They want legal status now, pure and simple, and they’re willing to worry about gaining permanent residency or citizenship afterward.
So to the members of United We Dream, I understand you aren’t willing to settle for the Achieve Act, or even the DREAM Act, but the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants you claim to support are willing to settle for such bills.
Obama may have won a tough reelection, and the Latino vote was pretty impressive this year, but the Republican Party is still the Republican Party — the same people who backed a presidential candidate that wanted the undocumented to self-deport themselves.
Make the damn compromise.