Dream Continues For Immigration Reform

by Diane Dimond on December 27, 2010

A Gift for All - Immigration Reform

Everyone – especially young people – wants that one special gift for Christmas. Well, this year there’s a group of kids that will remember the holiday as disappointing after the sins of their parents came back to haunt them. All these kids really wanted for Christmas was a helping hand onto the road to U.S. citizenship.

Their parents brought them to this country illegally, some of them as tiny infants, and although raised here in the United States of America – knowing loyalty to no other country but this one – they’ve been told their American dream stops now.

Our procrastinating Congress ended the first half of its 111th session by once again failing to pass the so-called Dream Act. The act could have become the first brave and concrete step on the arduous road to immigration reform.

Dream Denied But Not Dead

The act was designed to give thousands of foreign born kids who have graduated from high school, lived here for at least five years and who have stayed out of trouble with the law the opportunity to earn permanent residency if they do one of two things – complete two years in either the U.S. military or at an institution of higher learning.

Sounds to me like a plan to reward respectful young people with something that will, in turn, help the rest of us by creating brand new tax paying and law abiding citizens.

Regular readers of this column know I don’t exactly have a soft spot in my heart for illegal aliens. And no, I don’t call them “undocumented workers” because they have entered this country by defiantly breaking our immigration laws. But their kids? Come on, people! If we are ever going to get a grip on the problem of illegal immigration we have to start somewhere.

The Dream Act wasn’t going to be a free ride. It required a six year long commitment from those seeking citizenship. Participating young people would be monitored for compliance with the education or military requirements of the act. If they didn’t complete two years of study or receive an honorable discharge from the service their residency would be terminated and they’d be deported.

He Might Then Sponsor His Parents

I can imagine a day when the act could be extended. Once the child met the requirements they could then be used as the sponsor for their parent’s eventual citizenship.

Look, our immigration situation is a mess. Do we need to do more to tighten our border security? Yes, of course we do.

Do we need to do more to deport illegal aliens who’ve committed multiple crimes here? Yes! But take heart in knowing there were a record number of deportations of convicts this year, nearly 400 thousand of them.

Do we need to make it clear to potential immigrants that arriving here with a baby – in arms or in utero – does not automatically grant the parents U.S. citizenship? You bet.

But again, we have to start somewhere. We have to break the political impasse that has paralyzed any and all action on immigration reform. We have to stop sticking our heads in the sand figuring the problem will work itself out somehow. That has gotten us exactly nowhere for an unconscionable number of years.

Okay - Then What Do We Do With 12 Million Illegals?

For those who are stuck in the “amnesty only” position – forget it. We can’t condone foreigners coming into our country breaking our laws from the get-go. And, for those mired in the “tough enforcement only” stance – wake up! We cannot possibly deport the estimated 12 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States. We just can’t.

Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you like it or not, America’s economy is dependent on these illegal workers. It’s a simple fact that if a majority of them suddenly went back to their home country our farms, restaurants, hotels and other industries would be tossed into employee crisis.

If we could just figure out a way to assimilate them into society think of what that would do to our tax base – thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions of new taxpayers sharing our burden! Local and state budgets would see an influx of new funds. The Social Security and unemployment programs would get a boost of new money. Our military would have a new pool of willing recruits.

Someday She Can Help America

But to get to that point we have to knock some sense into our elected officials. We have to demand they start somewhere with immigration reform. I can’t think of a better place than giving a leg up to those innocent children who were brought here by their parents, who learned the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag just like your child did and who now want to pursue the American dream by going to college or joining the U.S. armed forces.

The first Dream Act legislation was proposed to the U.S. Congress on August 1, 2001. How much longer do these kids have to wait? How much longer do we, the citizens of the United States, have to wait for meaningful immigration reform?

Let’s start demanding it.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane December 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

ABQ Journal Reader Marcella Candelaria writes:

“I want to congratulate you on your column that ran in today’s Albuq. Journal regarding the Dream Act I applaud your balanced ideas and agree with you. As a teacher, I see families where students do not even realize they are in the country illegally. They are Americans, and when they are faced with the prospect of not going to college, or getting a driver’s license, it is heartbreaking. These are kids who did not have a choice and they are perfectly capable of becoming contributing members of our society. But we have to give them a chance. After all, isn’t that the American way? These families embody the American dream, something some of our own citizens seem to have forgotten We are a nation of immigrants and everyone should have a legitimate path to citizenry.
Thank you for your honest column. I for one AM holding my representatives accountable.”


Diane December 27, 2010 at 9:49 am

ABQ Journal Reader Gerry Maestas writes:

“I certainly agree that kids brought here by illegals are for the most part Americans….much more so than Mexicans……So I firmly believe there should be a path to citizenship for them.
However, 2 years of liberal arts are NOT a qualifier in my view. Military service? yes…..How about a couple of years in trade school?….We need plumbers and carpenters etc much more than lawyers even……I’m biased no doubt….My degree is in engineering and I’m a card-carrying member of the vast right wing conspiracy….”


Diane December 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

ABQ Journal Reader Doug Thomas writes:

Hi, Diane.
I think you have written a very-good description of what can get us out of this illegal immigrant mess.
I have been one of those who thought Pres. George W. Bush had a good solution, but this Dream Act, as proposed, turned me off. What really did it was the requirement, as an alternative, to attend college.
That sounded to me like a gift handed to the young people. And, no one said anything – about who would pay for it.
And, two years in the military was too short. I could have voted for a four-year hitch, if the college option was deleted. And, they would not only earn citizenship but accumulate the funds to go to college.
I was against the parents and other relatives possibility once citizenship was earned. But, it could be an answer to the very-real problem we have.
For those who, for valid reasons, could not serve in the Armed Forces, I would have wanted something roughly equivalent, such as National Service of some vital type.
Thanks for saying what you did. I hope you had a really nice Christmas.”


Diane December 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

Dear Doug,
See, you have some legit concerns and want to discuss how the Dream Act might be made better, stronger….. I commend you! And I agree with much of what you’ve said (longer military service, etc)
However, our “leaders” in the United States Senate couldn’t even get it together enough to discuss the act after the House had passed it.
This do-nothing attitude on immigration matters has to be resolved! We have to kick our politicians in the you-know-what and FORCE them to come to terms with the problem. Simply shouting “Amnesty!” or “No Amnesty!” has gotten us nowhere.


Diane December 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

ABQ Journal Reader Floyd Gering writes:

“Reference: Albuquerque Journal Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rubbish! You are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

The first step is to seal our very porous borders.

No amnesty.”


Diane December 27, 2010 at 10:02 am

Dear Floyd:
I completely agree we must fortify our borders – and I said so in this column. But then what? Then what do we do with the 12 million illegal aliens already here? Do we continue to complain and then ignore the problem? How do we get our arms around the huge conundrum?
Any and all ideas are welcome here……~ DD


Maebi Richards December 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

Excellent article Diane ! I ‘shared’ it on Facebook, hope you don’t mind. And all of the people who are screaming against it , I want to remind them that they are decendants of immigrants themselves and that actually none of those early immigrants had come with ‘papers’…


Bill Wright December 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I’m not in favor of leniency for lawbreakers nor do I feel this should be called ‘Immigration Reform’ to justify illegal’s actions. BUT I support your view, Diane: “The Dream Act wasn’t going to be a free ride….Sounds to me like a plan to reward respectful young people…. we have to start somewhere” YOUR RIGHT , “Simply shouting “Amnesty!” or “No Amnesty!” has gotten us nowhere. And I’d be willing to bet BOTH Obama and Bush agree on this issue. Note: I’d expect any college education requirement cost to be the individuals burden unless we’re planning on giving all legal children of American taxpayers free education too.


steve hammill December 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm

>>>We cannot possibly deport the estimated 12 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States.

Of course we could if we had the political will to do it; however, perhaps the new crop of thieves…errrrrr…politicians will be different. I really don’t expect that, so you’re probably correct that it will never happen.

The DREAM act is among the more reasonable proposals, but there needs to be a quid pro quo in it. Something like, we’ll let you dream, but your illegal alien parents and no good siblings must turn themselves in and be deported without prejudice. …and after the DREAMer fulfills their obligation in the course of time, the DREAMer should be permitted to sponsor their parents and siblings for legal status.

I’m sponsoring two people through the immigration process now; it has cost thousands of dollars and countless hours doing paperwork. Probably as a result, I’m not a fan of any forgiveness for illegal aliens. …and even ouchy about this DREAM thing which will cost taxpayers a bundle.

As for throwing business into disarray without the illegal alien work pool, it will just make jobs available to Americans who may finally be realizing that the gravy train is coming to an end, so they’d better find a way to support themselves.


Diane December 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Michael Daly writes:

“Ms. Diamond, (sic)
I believe you are misreading the sentiment about the Dream Act. To allow the illegals’ in this country citizenship on its own is not a bad idea. But in the context of today’s open border it is offensive to many including to me. Remember we’ve had this problem for a long time. But we granted amnesty during the Reagan Administration – but no one closed the border. First, close the border so that we stop the unbridled inflow, then go for amnesty for those here. I will support that.
Pardon me for seeing the irony in the current situation: we have troops ½ way around the world waging a war we should have avoided and costing every family $40,000 and we refuse to secure our own southern border.
Keep writing.


Diane December 28, 2010 at 8:43 am

Creators Syndicate Web site Reader Pat Riley writes:

“The only immigration reform we need is strict enforcement of the immigration laws!”


Diane December 28, 2010 at 8:45 am

Well, Pat,
We’ve already messed that up – to the tune of 12 million (plus!) who live here. NOW how do you propose we “strictly enforce” the immigration law?
We haven’t enough ICE agents, jails, courts of law….So, seriously – now what do we do?
Pat, its just not enough anymore to simply say – “Enforce the law!” The nimrods we elected have put us in a spot where that’s just not feasible.

So…now what? I’m seriously interested in solutions here – because every day we fail to act the problem gets that much harder to solve. ~ DD


Diane December 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Dear Readers:

Please visit my home at the Huffington Post for lots more reader comments and my answers to them here:


They are too numerous to post here. ~ DD


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