Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Roger's Immigration Blog: Thoughts on the Dream Act.

Roger's Immigration Blog: Thoughts on the Dream Act.

Thoughts on the Dream Act.

“The parents ate sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” In Ezekiel, this ancient proverb is referenced with respect to the Babylonian captivity of ancient Israel. In Israel’s captivity in Babylon, the children believed they were suffering for their parents’ sins. They didn’t eat the proverbial sour grapes, but they were suffering just the same. Generations before them made mistakes, but it’s their descendants that pay the price. The Lord speaks through Ezekiel and says that the Lord will change that. No longer will the children say that. Everyone will suffer for their own “sins.”

Reminds me of the once again failed Dream Act.

The children of undocumented immigrants may feel like the ancient children of captive Israel. Their migration to the U.S. was not of their choosing, but they still suffer for it. They can’t go to college, can’t get driver’s licenses, can’t open bank accounts, can’t get insurance, can’t hold their heads up with dignity when they walk the streets. They are subject to abuse and failed dreams. They are snatched up at unexpected times and sent back to countries they do not know, and to learn languages they do not speak.

In God’s economy of things, it is not his intention for the children to suffer for the sins of the parents, although sometimes that is unavoidable. Children grow up in homes where mistakes cause much suffering, even among the innocent.

But with respect to the immigration consequences of children raised in the U.S., but born in another country, we have [had] an option. The Dream Act. Children brought here before the age of 16, who graduate from high school here, who go to college or spend two years in the U.S. military, can get permanent residence after many years of fulfilling all sorts of conditions and jumping through hoops (including criminal checks).

This seems like a “no brainer.” These children are raised here and stand to contribute significantly to our economy, our military, and our country. In their minds, they are already Americans. But for some people, the supposed “crimes” of the parents are so heinous that the continued suffering of the children is warranted as a kind of deterrent to future behavior.

But honestly, is there any real deterrent effect here? Do parents about to cross the border to find jobs to feed their families really stop and ask whether their children will be punished at some distant point in the future? Or do they think about what their children need right now, and so they cross the border and hope the future can be brighter?

It is unjust and it is immoral for the U.S. to deny children the opportunity to stay and contribute to this country, when those children have been brought here and raised here through no fault of their own. The Dream Act will come up again. Matters of justice tend to do that, and one day it will be adopted.