Monday, September 20, 2010

Working on a Dream



Supporters of the DREAM Act walk down 16th Street in Phoenix towards the office of US Sen. John McCain Sunday night. 
About 30 undocumented immigrants and their supporters are camped out at the offices of US Sen. John McCain hoping he votes in favor of the DREAM Act. 
According to Wikipedia, The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (The "DREAM Act") is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that was introduced in the United States Senate, and the United States House of Representatives on March 26, 2009. This bill would provide certain illegal immigrant 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.



In Arizona alone, there are thousands of students in the schools who were brought to the US by their parents when they were tiny and have lived in the US almost all their lives but are not legal residents. Many no longer speak Spanish and have no sense of what life is like in Mexico or whatever their country of origin might be.
They face a future that is uncertain at best. If they are in a car that’s pulled over for speeding and the officers asks about their immigration status they could be sent back to a country they have no memory of. If anyone reports them to authorities for being in the US illegally they face deportation. In the Phoenix area, the Maricopa County sheriff holds frequent “crime suppression sweeps.” If they’re stopped by a deputy for jaywalking they face deportation. (Arizona does not issue driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove their immigration status or don’t have a social security number.)
There was a time when Sen. McCain supported the DREAM Act. But that was before he incurred the wrath of the right wing. Now he says we need to secure the border first and no longer supports the DREAM Act. 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) says the Senate will take up the DREAM Act this week. I just don’t see it passing. There’s too much anti-immigrant hysteria in the US right now and I don’t think the Democrats can muster the votes they need. And if it does pass, Arizona’s Republicans, which are even more conservative than the national GOP, would almost certainly try to circumvent it. 
The nightmare these young immigrants are living doesn’t look like it’s going to become a dream anytime soon. 
There are more photos from the vigil in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.