August 15 marks the day when close to one million undocumented immigrants brought here has children, raised and educated as Americans — known as DREAMers — will step out of the shadows and request temporary deportation relief. It’s what President Obama boldly promised to deliver two months earlier, a measure to alleviate some of the challenges facing young people who would otherwise be rescued by passage of the DREAM Act — which actually did pass back in 2010… well, sort of.
Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), considered the leading figure in the struggle for immigrant rights and comprehensive immigration reform, had tough words for his opponents on Tuesday:
“The anti-immigrant groups in Washington and elsewhere want immigrants to stay in the shadows and perish there or go away. Nothing will make them sadder than a group of fine, intelligent, well-mannered young people stepping forward to say ‘thank you for the protection and relief and we would like more, for ourselves, our country, our families, and our communities.’ Republicans in the House and Senate are threatening to sue President Obama because he is protecting DREAMers from deportation. Coming forward is a great way of ruining their day. They can’t stop this. It is happening.”
Gutiérrez will be attending a DREAM Relief Day event at Chicago’s Navy Pier organized by Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Among others in attendance will be Gutiérrez’s partner in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was dogged during his mayoral campaign for allegedly sabotaging passage of the DREAM Act as chief of staff in the Obama White House, but who has recently come out in favor of immigrant rights, vowing to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in America.
Hopefully, these recent series of events point to a pro-immigrant upsurge coming to wash away the extreme nativist fervor that has gripped the country since the latter part of the Bush years. All that’s missing is official support for the DREAM Act by the Democrats.
Cue more good news:
“In an appeal to Latino voters, three Senate candidates in the Southwest are calling on delegates to the Democratic National Convention to make support of a bill to help young illegal immigrants gain citizenship a part of the party platform.
Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee for a Senate seat from New Mexico, is leading the effort and said that formally supporting the immigration proposal would provide voters with a clear choice on an issue that many care deeply about.
‘I think the time has come for the DREAM Act to be part of our identity as a party,’ Heinrich said in a telephone interview.
Democratic candidate Shelley Berkley in Nevada said she supports the campaign, and a spokesman for Richard Carmona in Arizona said he does as well.”
That passage of the DREAM Act is not on the party’s platform only underscores the weakness of both the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in the United States — but that’s another issue for another day.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the DREAM Act are narrow, short-term measures to address America’s immigration crisis, as any banner-waving lefty or right-winger will readily tell you. To be clear, comprehensive immigration reform is the goal, but until that’s achieved, something must be done where it can be done. Sure, most undocumented immigrants want to become full-fledged Americans someday, but they’ll settle for a driver’s license and a work permit in the interim.
Until a long-term fix can be agreed to, a short-term fix will have to do. Hey, that’s what the spare tire in the trunk of your car is for.