Do you ever get the feeling that Tea Party Republicans see the phrase “Ignorance Is Bliss” as a Mission Statement?


Why I Support the Dream Act

by Jon S. Randal
Thursday, December 9, 2010

I was hesitant about writing this next Note on the Dream Act. I have many friends who expect funny things from me, but this is one issue that I'm truly serious about.  Not too many people know about this issue other than what they have read, most of it from politicians. It won't be popular, it won't receive as many hits as "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Boehner," but it is what I feel and as I've said before, it's the right thing to do.

Why am I pushing for the Dream Act to pass? Because I know what these kids are going through, it is a living nightmare to fear that you may be deported to a land you never knew by the country you love. I know someone who experienced this nightmare firsthand. My best friend had to go through hell to survive the ordeal. He never did anything wrong, yet he was punished as if he was a criminal, denied rights that we take for granted, changing his life forever.

He arrived in this country legally, wearing his favorite t-shirt, that of the Beatles. He was only 6-years-old. One of his heroes was John Lennon, the other hero was John F. Kennedy.  He was brought over by a loving grandmother, who had helped raise him and was concerned when he became ill after she left their homeland. His legal status then was a student visa, so he started kindergarten and went through high school with top honors, both academic and good citizen. All this time, he believed he was like everyone else...just another American kid, watching reruns of "Leave it to Beaver" and eating McDonald's french fries.

Right before graduating from high school, the guidance counseler called him into his office and floored him with the news that all the scholarships he had rightfully earned to prestigious colleges had to be denied because he was not a citizen. He advised him to get it straightened out immediately. Apparently, my friend's grandmother had an opportunity many times to change his status, but never knew enough to follow through, so his visa had lapsed.

Well, my friend, as conscientious as he was, decided to confront the issue as honestly as he could by going straight up to the regional Immigration Office and tell them his story. No one advised him he should have seen an attorney first, because upon meeting an INS officer, he was told he had broken the immigration laws and would be deported immediately to a strange land to a country whose language he had long forgotten. He was devasted, as was his grandmother who loved him so and could not understand how she could have allowed this to happen.

The Immigration officers didn't even want to listen to his story and insensitively joked whether he even knew how to speak English. He explained he should because he was an English honor student, and the INS officer just stared at him as if he were a criminal.

My friend did eventually get an attorney, which stalled the proceedings for several years, but it was years of torture for the young man - he could not receive a driver's license, he could not work, he could only attend community college by paying non-resident tuition, he could not even attend his own father's funeral in his homeland for fear he would be unable to return. It was a life of no life. All this time, his grandmother did what she could to keep him in college and help pay for his legal fees, working two jobs and also working from home. His friends helped him survive the emotional trauma, in which some days were so bleak that he thought a few times of ending it all.

Just imagine, leaving friends and family behind, everything you've ever grown up with, and being deported to a strange land, a land whose language and customs you no longer understand, a land whose politics devalued anyone who seeks higher education, a land which at that time was politically unstable and very dangerous. And, why would the country he so loved, supported, and willing to die for, do this? Because he was a young kid who didn't know enough of the paperwork involved to change his stupid status. That's it.

So, he did his best, he continued following all the laws, and survived the best he could. Years later, President Reagan passed the Immigration Amnesty Law, allowing illegal aliens to receive amnesty even after committing a crime. My friend applied, he was rejected -- because...he had not broken any laws and had actually come to this country legally. Because his father had died, his mother and brothers and sisters eventually arrived in this country as legal residents, while he was still being denied that same right.

After 10 years of legal fighting and expense, my friend eventually was granted residency. He went on to finish college and become the first member of his family to earn a degree. He found a good job, although not the job he would have received if he hadn't gone through this nightmare.  After 5 more years, he applied for and received his citizenship  and was able to celebrate with his dear friends on July 4th, Independence Day. When he received his certificate, he looked up to the sky and thanked his grandmother, who never lived to see her grandson become a citizen.

He was always a good citizen, even when he wasn't technically a "citizen," and he remains a good citizen today and also a productive member of his community, helping out and supporting various causes. I will not reveal the identity of my friend because it still brings painful memories of a time when he would sit in a dark room, listen to John Lennon sing, reciting "You may think I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." The days when he would just ask "Why?"

There are many young men and women out there who are going through this same ordeal now, wondering why they are being punished by the country they so dearly love because of something they had no control over when they were brought to this country as children.   The Dream Act, if passed, will allow them to continue this dream. My friend was a "dreamer" too, and fortunately for him, his dream did come true. Let's hope we do the right thing and fulfill the dreams of many others like him.

This is my Note, and I know it won't be read, and it surely won't bring the laughs my friends are accustomed to from my page. But I'm writing it for my friend and for the others who've had similar experiences...because he is not the only "dreamer."

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