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Passing the DREAM Act; It’s a No-Brainer

Guest Blogger • Aug 14, 2009

by Prerna Lal

William Clinton was at Netroots Nations tonight for a keynote address. I couldn’t be bothered to attend and grace his latest simulation with my presence. After all, the former President signed into law two pieces of legislation that work together to keep me undocumented.

First, the 1996 immigration laws that created new factors for inadmissibility, which includes a 10-year ban for any undocumented person who overstays and then leaves the United States. Along with NAFTA, this is one of the main reasons seasonal migrant workers simply stayed in the United States and brought the rest of their families here to settle. Due to increasingly stringent border control, coming back was never a guarantee so the migrant workers simply stayed. Their children went to schools here and grew up American, with little to no memory of their countries of origin. Coming back to my story, leaving this country means not qualifying for the DREAM Act or under a visa petition filed by my parents and not being able to stay with my family. Thank you Bill for the 10-year ban that has actually created more ‘illegal immigration.’ You want us to leave? Help us lift the ban.

And the icing on the cake is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which means that I cannot get federal recognition to marry a person of the same-sex as that does nothing to correct my immigration status. So effectively, I have to stay undocumented because I identify as queer. Thank you once again for teaching me first-hand about intersectional institutional oppression.

Bill Clinton got away with these homophobic and anti-immigrant proposals because few leaders in these communities called him out. 15 years later, the less-shrill LGBT groups are finally coming out of their closets in anger over Obama’s broken promises to the LGBT community. But beltway immigration groups continue to act like Obama’s lapdogs, rather than calling him out on his broken promise for immigration reform in 2009.

The beltway immigration groups and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is probably going to learn these lessons the hard-way with a new President who is behaving very much like the spineless Democrat before him. Being disappointed about the postponed immigration bill is not enough. Telling us to ‘wait it out’ is also an inappropriate response, with so many lives at stake. Do you really expect us to believe that Congress will pass immigration reform in an election year? Maybe, we do need to look to piecemeal reforms, and give the 1.6 million to 2.8 undocumented students what we deserve and what we have the votes for already: the DREAM Act. It’s a no-brainer. Watch this Illinois Congressperson to see why:

Stop sacrificing the good for the perfect. There’s never going to be a perfect comprehensive solution that will make everyone happy. And keeping me unhappy is just not a good idea.

Immigration reform is a business. The defeat of a pro-migrant CIR would just be a lesson for most of these DC organizations that make their money and continue to exist only because they claim to fight for immigrant rights. If those rights were won, these beltway groups wouldn’t need to be around. Their existence depends on prolonging the battle but they can conveniently forget that they aren’t the losers or casualties. That would be me and 11.8 million other undocumented immigrants, who are being told to wait-out this attrition. Stop drafting DREAM Act students into a war for which we never even enlisted.

Don’t ask, don’t tell. Just help us pass the DREAM Act.

Prerna Lal is a blogger, youth organizer, academic and new media consultant. She blogs about immigration and LGBT issues, and works with DREAM Act youth. Read her blog at http://prernalal.com. Or visit http://dreamACTivist.org and http://dreamact2009.com.
*Guest blogger posts are the sole responsibility of their authors. The opinions expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the opinions of Imagine 2050 editors or regular contributors.
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