Dreaming about better legislation


photo by Amani Canada

With the Oct. 5 date behind us-the last day for DACA renewals-there has been a lot of buzz about what Congress will do. They have five months before deportations begin. Six different bills of legislation are being considered; here’s what you need to know.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a bipartisan bill known also as the Graham-Durbin bill after its proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

It offers a path to citizenship for the Dreamers that arrived in the United States before the age of 18, have been here for a consecutive four years prior to its enactment, are admitted to an institution of higher education, or have earned a GED or high school diploma or are currently enrolled in high school. They must pass a background check and must not have committed certain criminal offenses.

If Dreamers meet those requirements, you will have a conditional permanent residence status (CPR) for eight years. Eight. Dreamers who receive this status will also be able to apply for financial aid to attend school, which they do not currently receive, even under DACA. They must share an unsettling amount of their personal information with the government “” any record imaginable, like your report card from school, honorable discharge from the Coast Guard or your home address since being in the US “” to get DACA status, and the DREAM Act restricts the government from using this information for purposes of deportation.

While under the CPR status, for those eight years, Dreamers cannot leave the U.S. and must obtain a degree, have given two years of service in the military or have held employment for three years. They must also be able to read, write and speak English, and also understand U.S. civics.

Once Dreamers have done all of that, they can apply for a green card, which gives them legal permanent residence (LPR). Stick with the LPR for another five years and apply for citizenship. This adds up to a total of 13 years before even becoming eligible for citizenship, which could add several years to that total. Thirteen years from now, Dreamers can finally visit their “˜home’ country.

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy) Act was introduced by the same Senators, and is intended to act as a permanent installment of DACA.

The RAC (Recognizing America’s Children) Act is similar to the DREAM Act, except that there is a longer requirement for the conditional permanent residence, making it a total of approximately 15 years before citizenship.

The SUCCEED (Solutions for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation) Act also has a 15-year path to citizenship, but has longer requirements for education, work or military service.

Now it gets worse.

The Border Security for America Act plans to invest more than $15 billion in securing the border by updating infrastructure, modernizing trading ports and paying law enforcement. Sounds like a wall, smells like a wall, reads like a wall “””†it is a wall.

The RAISE (Reforming America’s Immigration for Strong Employment) Act. Trump has pledged support for this one. This act aims to lower immigration entirely, including legal immigration. This is somehow supposed to help the economy. It would decrease total immigration by 50 percent in the next 10 years by capping the number of refugees to 50,000, giving fewer protections to extended family members, and completely annihilating the Diversity Visa Lottery allocates another 50,000 visas to the U.S. for immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates.

It would create a points-based system that grades a person on their level of education, ability to speak English, how many job offers they have, age and record of achievement.

This is beyond just the Dreamers, now. This piece of legislation is an assault on diversity and immigration in this country entirely. It is an excuse to be systematically nationalistic. What is the sense of limiting legal immigration? There is room for everyone in this country, and economic prowess of the United States is not a zero-sum game. Those who come here to work, as my family did from Italy through legal avenues, or maybe people you know who have green cards or have been naturalized citizens, do not threaten our society. Legislation like this suggests that these people shouldn’t be here, or more of them don’t deserve to come. They don’t have a good enough human grade! They don’t have enough points! It’s nationalism at its worst “””† implying that America is full of good citizens and the others, the outsiders “” well, they are just bad. We can’t let them in anymore. It is intense and irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries. Funny, that is also the definition of xenophobia.

Polls have been disheartening when it comes to the RAISE Act. The opposition is weak: 57% of Democrats oppose the notion of reducing legal immigration, while 73% of Republicans agree with the notion. Chief research officer Kyle Dropp of Morning Consulting said “Republican support is more consolidated than Democratic opposition.” After reading last weeks’ editorial, I am more aware now of the need for Democrats to unify; we can’t be apathetic about things like the RAISE Act when Republicans are chomping at the bit to pass their agenda. This extends beyond immigration, and is arguably one of the reasons we are in this mess at all.

The champions of change today are too complacent. Democrats didn’t turn out for the election, and now we have Trump. We need to get woke, Dems. This great divide of those who speak up and those who are fed up will ruin any chance we have at creating change.

If you want to help, sign this petition founded by United We Dream. You can also go to FWD.us and get easy instructions on how to call congress representatives.