Friday, November 02, 2007

DREAM on, my friends!

This week, the DREAM Act didn't quite make it past the Senate floor. It was close, but wasn't enough.

I'm not quite sure I understand the fear and repercussions of allowing immigrants drivers licenses and legal stays here. And I REALLY don't understand preventing children who didn't choose to be here from getting an education and working. I think it has something to do with, "If we allow it for the people here now, people will continue bringing their kids over here illegally knowing that we'll give in eventually." I don't know if that is the rationale or not. But I would like to dispel some myths.

Myth:
Immigrants don't pay taxes. Immigrants pay taxes just like we do...on income, property, sales tax at the store, and anywhere else we all pay taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay income taxes, as evidenced by the Social Security Administration's "suspense file" (taxes that can't be mathced to workers' names and social security numbers), which grew $20 billion between 1990 and 1998. (National Academy of Sciences, Cato Institute, Urban Institute, Soc. Sec. Administration)

Myth:
Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries. In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to U.S., federal, state, and local governments. (Cato Institute, Inter-American Development Bank)

Myth:
Immigrants take jobs and opportunities away from Americans. The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers. (Brookings Institution)

Myth:
Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy. During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born, filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to a thriving economy. The net benefit of immigration to the U.S. is nearly $10 billion annually. As Alan Greenspan points out, 70% of immigrants arrive in prime working age. that means we haven't spent a penny on their education, yet they are transplanted into our workforce and will contribute $500 billion toward our social security system over the next 20 years. (National Academy of Sciences, Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, Federal Reserve)

Myth:
Immigrants don't want to learn English. Within 10 years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak English well; moreover, demand for English classes at the adult level far exceeds supply.

Myth:
Today's immigrants are different than those of 100 years ago. Today's foreign-born population stands at 11.5%. In the early 20th century it was approximately 15%. Today's immigrants face the same challenges and discrimination as back then. Every new wave of immigrants has been met with suspicion and doubt yet, ultimately, every past wave of immigrants has been vindicated and saluted. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Myth:
Most immigrants cross the border illegally. Around 75% have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the 25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (non-immigrant) visas. (INS Statistical Yearbook)
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The DREAM Act would provide an opportunity for U.S.-raised students to earn U.S. citizenship. The DREAM Act would allow certain immigrant students to adjust their status to that of a legal permanent resident on a conditional basis for six years based on the following requirements:
  • Age. Immigrant students must have entered the U.S. before age 16.
  • Academic requirement. Students must have been accepted for admission into a two or four-year institution of higher education or have earned a high school diploma or a GED at the time of application for relief or served in the U.S. armed forces for at least 2 years.
  • Long-term U.S. residence. Students must reside in the U.S. when the law is enacted. In addition, those eligible must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the date of enactment of the Act.
  • Good moral character. Immigrant students must demonstrate good moral character, a defined term in immigration law. In general, students must have no criminal record.
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One of my friends, an 18-year old, goes to court on Monday. He was brought here by his parents when he was a young boy. He did not make the choice himself. He knows the United States as his home.

He is facing deportation. ...to a country of which he is unfamiliar.

Although we have hope that the DREAM Act will continue to move forward and, with all of our efforts, eventually pass, I am not sure if it will be in enough time to keep Jose from being deported.

I am anxious for Monday morning and knowing that whatever happens Monday will likely be the same fate of my other friend, Monica, later this month.

Please pray for justice.

Monica has said she will accept whatever happens because she knows that her fight now, no matter what the outcome, will help others behind her.

Sounds like Martin Luther King, Jr. to me.

Much love, Monica and Jose. I'm behind you all the way!
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