Who can DREAM in America?

You might be surprised to know that participants of the fourth conference on Dialogue under Occupation did not leap, unquestioning, in support of the proposed 2010 Dream Act, soon to be debated in the US Senate.

First, we had to understand it.

Carlos Saavedra, born in Peru, brought to the US with his parents at age twelve, paid $4000 for his US citizenship after graduating from an American high school in East Boston.

Carlos Saavedra listening to questions from DUO4 participants

The Dream Act is not a gift, it is a pathway for undocumented youth to buy citizenship in the country where they live, learn, and work. Just like Carlos had to work and pay the price for the privilege of US citizenship, so too will every young person who wants to legitimize their existence in America.

The alternative is the laissez-faire creation of a new category of criminal. If The Dream Act fails to pass the Senate (and later the House), DUO4 participant Shelley Wong listed implications:

  • children being punished for the decisions of their parents
  • adults being blamed for seeking work
  • a cycle of forcing youth out of the system, inviting worse societal level problems:
    • health care consequences such as the spread of preventable communicable diseases (such as tuburculosis) because “illegals” can’t get immunized for fear of being caught and deported
    • auto insurance increases because “illegal” drivers involved in accidents are more likely to ‘hit-and-run’ for fear of being named “illegal” and deported
    • violent crimes remaining unresolved because witnesses are afraid to talk with the police for fear of being identified as “illegal” and deported

We agreed that fear is a legitimate basis for concern.  Can the US economy continue to accept new immigrants?  Can American citizens take pride in recognizing and choosing to remain the nation of immigrants as we were at the start?  Factual answers to these questions need to be made widely available. What kind of taxes do undocumented workers currently pay? How many dollars come in to the US economy from these workers? How much more production and consumption could be generated by legalizing these human beings rather than keeping them marginalized on the edge of crime?

Meanwhile, can these young people continue to dream?

Some students have walked 1,500 miles from Miami to DC to demonstrate their belief in the America that DUO conference founder Larry Berlin says he grew up in.  “I was raised to believe that America is doing something more.”

Are Americans still capable of that “more” or has fear succeeded in overwhelming us?

3 Responses to “Who can DREAM in America?”

  1. Why quote a Byzantine emperor? | World University Information Says:

    […] Who can DREAM in America? « Dialogue under Occupation […]

  2. Ibrahim A. El-Hussari Says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    Greetings fom Beirut, Lebanon.
    I am afraid the American Dream, upon which the American nation has been built, is nw being shattered by waves of induced fear and the new policies of the home security office. If the case of Carlos and other undocumented cases, as demonstrated by Carlos and Shelley in the DUO conference, are a case in point, the big question remains if the Congress is ready to discuss and pass the Dream Act. One thing should be brought to focus here: America is a nation of big minorities, of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-linguistic origins.

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