Let’s Get Busy


I’m not generally a very political person, but I do have a tendency to be opinionated. Lately I’ve thought I should put some actions behind my words. Nothing too extreme, just a little voicing my opinions (and really, my beliefs) in the direction of people who are paid to take action on my behalf. And sadly, no, I didn’t get a pair of personal assistants. I just started calling my senators.

One of my favorite organizations, the Mennonite Central Committee, sends me updates about things that they and I may mutually agree upon. They brought the DREAM Act to my attention some time ago. This week they wrote:

Update: Yesterday [Wed 8 Dec] the House of Representatives passed it’s version of the DREAM Act 216-198.  The Senate voted this morning to delay debate on it’s modified DREAM bill (S.3992), hoping instead to vote on the House version next week.

Background: The DREAM Act would allow high school graduates who were brought to the U.S. as minors and do not have legal immigrant status to pursue higher education and legal citizenship.

Every year, approximately 65,000 immigrant children are unable to pursue their dreams of going to college because they lack legal immigration status. They face unique barriers to higher education such as ineligibility for financial aid; they are unable to legally work here; and they live in constant fear of detection by immigration authorities. Despite the fact that many have grown up in the U.S., attended local schools, and demonstrated a sustained commitment to learn English, U.S. immigration laws provide no legal avenues for these students to rectify their status.  DREAM Act Fact Sheet

Why the MCC Washington Office supports DREAM:

Back in 2007 when the MCC Washington Office had to decide whether or not to support DREAM, we wrestled with the decision due to the military service component. In the end, we listened to the voices of many of our constituents — especially undocumented youth who would benefit from the legislation, and their friends and family – who asked us to support DREAM in spite of the military option. (Read the story of one EMU graduate who would benefit from the DREAM Act)

Our 2-page “DREAM fact sheet” lays out our concerns with the military recruitment piece, as well as our work to add a service component (thus far we have been unsuccessful in that effort):

  • Although respectful of another’s choice to serve in the armed forces, MCC believes military recruiters sometimes pressure and even mislead potential recruits, especially disadvantaged youth. MCC does not want the DREAM Act to become a tool for unscrupulous recruitment.
  • A service based organization itself, MCC would like to see humanitarian service, through national service programs like Americorps and Peace Corps, added to the DREAM Act as an alternative to military and educational paths to citizenship.

We also have concerns about supporting a piecemeal bill rather than truly comprehensive immigration reform. But, as the prospects for such reform are increasingly bleak, we’re left with the unfortunate choice of supporting an imperfect bill like DREAM which could help several thousand folks gain legal residency and work permits, or doing nothing at all.

The publications I’ve received inspired me to want to know more, and I found (not surprisingly, based on the subject matter) that I quite agree with the DREAM Act. I called my friends Patty and Maria over in DC to let them know. I left Patty a voicemail letting her know that I’d appreciate it if she would vote yes, and I spoke with a friend in Maria’s office who said (rather brusquely, if I may say so) that Maria had already decided to vote yes.

I had such a good experience, I saved their numbers in my phone so we can converse more frequently about my favorite issues from here on out. I’m also planning on having coffee with Patty while I’m in DC sometime in the first half of 2011.

I think I’ll go send them each a Christmas card. I bet they’d like that…

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