Friday, June 24, 2011

Not Every DREAMER Gets Straight A's

Earlier this week, Kevin Johnson posted the story on the New York Times Magazine coming out essay by Jose Antonio Vargas, a prominent journalist who turns out to be an undocumented DREAMER. I've known and supported Jose in his efforts for several months now, and I applaud his courage in coming forward to promote the passage of the DREAM Act and other comprehensive immigration reform measures.

I've posted one of my reactions to Jose's essay on Huffington Post:

Jose Antonio Vargas' story is remarkable. He disclosed in a New York Times Magazine essay that he is an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines who learned of his true status at the age of 16 when he applied for a driver's permit. In spite of that challenge, he became an award-winning journalist, having worked for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, written for an array of other top-flight media outlets, and interviewed a number of high-profile newsmakers.

Without doubt, Jose is a special talent with a special story; he's using that profile to advocate on behalf of other undocumented young men and women who have attended high school in the United States and could benefit from the enactment of the DREAM Act. If passed, the Act would grant lawful status to these undocumented young adults if they complete at least two years of college or military service and fulfill other conditions. Democratic leaders tried to get the DREAM Act passed in the lame duck session of Congress in December, and although the legislation passed in the House, Harry Reid fell five votes short in a Senate cloture vote.

Turns out that I'm helping to represent another DREAMer (as many such young adults are commonly referred to) who is currently age 16 and facing deportation. Ernesto (a pseudonym) may not have the remarkable accomplishments that Jose has to his credit, but I sense that given the opportunity, Ernesto also can contribute importantly to our society. Like many children born in Mexico, his parents brought Ernesto across the border surreptitiously several years back. Mexico's economy shed jobs as a result of NAFTA and the country's inability to compete in agriculture and manufacturing with world trade compact nations like China. So Ernesto's parents and many others crossed the border in search of work to feed their families.

. . .

For every Jose Antonio Vargas or Ernesto, we are very likely to encounter DREAMers who are not near the top of their class, but they are here at any rate because their parents are dreamers as well. Their parents' dreams may appear simple and clichéd, but they are true nonetheless: to make an honest living for an honest day's work, to put food on the table, to be part of a safe community, to instill strong family values, and to send their children to school out of hope for a better tomorrow. Like Jose and Ernesto, they too are remarkable for getting their families here out of sheer determination to lead a productive life. Read more...


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