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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Crushing a DREAM

    Defeat of immigrant act a shame for Arizona legislators

    Politicians are fond of dreaming up adorable names for federal legislation. The 110th Congress has borne a slew of cutesy bills, including the FAIR USE Act (amending copyright law), the RESTORE Act (reforming domestic surveillance) and even the arcane LOST Act (revising the Law of the Sea). Often, a bill’s clever moniker belies its actual intentions: the maligned USA PATRIOT Act, which performed the unpatriotic function of eroding Americans’ civil liberties, comes to mind as an exemplar of this trend. Once in a while, however, the content of a bill aligns with its catchy name.

    The Development Relief and Education Act for Alien Minors – better known as the DREAM Act – was a smart, bipartisan bill that could have inspired new hope for immigration reform. It was an idea that truly could have made the dreams of many young people living in America come true. Most important, however, after failing Wednesday in the Senate – thanks in part to the obstinance and apathy of Arizona’s own senators – it is a law aptly named. The bill’s defeat means the promise of a prosperous future for thousands of youth will remain no more than a dream.

    The act, sponsored by Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and fought for by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, had a simple goal. The children of many undocumented immigrants who entered the United States illegally had no say in crossing the border. Though they may have slipped into our nation when they were young, they are all but officially as American as any certified citizen. The act would have given these young people a shot at citizenship, provided that they entered the U.S. before age 16, lived here for five years and committed to attending college or serving in the military. Passing the bill – which would have both trained a generation of citizens and boosted a military starved for dedicated recruits – should have been an easy task. But its failure is an example of the poisoned debate that surrounds any discussion of immigration.

    The bill’s opponents derided its essentially honorable goals as “”backdoor amnesty”” for millions of immigrants, although estimates by nonpartisan researchers suggested it would affect no more than a few hundred thousand. Yet in today’s political climate, any immigration measure that is not harsh and punitive ends up equivalently labeled by irrational anti-immigrant voices. It’s too bad, because the DREAM Act was nearly a reality – it failed in the Senate for want of a mere eight votes.

    Arizona Sen. John Kyl, no friend of sensible policy when it comes to immigration, lodged an unsurprising “”no”” vote against the bill. Although regrettable, his vote was expected. In a disappointing display of political cowardice, however, Sen. John McCain, who had previously denounced the bill, ducked out of Congress an hour before the roll call – and thus dodged political responsibility for whatever decision he would have made. The vote and non-vote are both shameful – moreso in light of the miniscule margin that killed the bill.

    Many of those who voted against the DREAM Act’s small step forward for aspiring youth claimed that change must come as part of broader immigration reform. But the public discussion over immigration is so filled with vitriol and so twisted by a radical few that this defense is disingenuous. They know that crushing this dream bears political consequences. But it bears very real consequences for thousands of young people, now condemned to live in the shadows of a more prosperous America. Thanks to the Senate’s failure, their American dream has become a nightmare.

    OPINIONS BOARD: Editorials are determined by the Wildcat Opinions Board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Connor Mendenhall and Jeremiah Simmons.

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