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Sen. Grassley — get on the DREAM wagon

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JUNE 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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On June 15, President Obama used his executive privilege to unilaterally alter the immigration policy. His opponents were furious. They argue that this president has too much power and is therefore bad — but that still doesn't change the fact that the man has good policies.

The deferred action proposed by the president applies to immigrants who meet specific criteria. They must have entered the United States under the age of 16, lived here for at least five years, be current students or have high-school diplomas, be active in the military or a veteran, be under 30 years old, and have no criminal record.

This is a problem for many people. Amnesty opponents such as our own Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the president rebuking him for giving work permits to people who aren't American citizens. Grassley argues that if you want to be an American, you need to speak English and pay taxes. He says he doesn't want to hand out U.S. rights to just anyone who enters the country, and this kind of underhanded, backdoor amnesty proposed by the president just won't do.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act allows people meeting all of those criteria to receive a deferred action of deportation. It allows them to legally be hired in the U.S., apply for federal student loans so they might attend college, and allows them to get a driver's license. The deferred action expires after two years and would then need to be renewed.

According to the Pew Research Center, as many as 11 million people living in America are not authorized to be here. Of those 11 million, Pew estimates that nearly 80 percent are Latino. The center also estimates that this executive order could affect as many as 1.4 million young immigrants.

There are many who agree with Grassley, including all who back the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Leaders at the group say that all illegal immigrants do is bring their poverty, crime, and drugs into America to weaken our economy.

Leaders at the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Grassley propose that rather than allowing young people to live, work, drive, and go to school, we should increase the amount of security and keep right on kicking them out of the country.

These Republicans are now advocating for increased government spending so that we can close our borders and keep Americans safe. At this point, one might ask — safe from whom? The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any administration since the 1950s, and more than 90 percent of those deported under this administration have identified as Latino — but still we have drugs, crime, unemployment, and immense debt.

We must stop blaming problems on immigrants who came to this nation to better themselves — not to destroy us. The people given an opportunity under the DREAM Act are kids who have never committed a crime, are trying to get an education, and help make America a better place.

Problems such as drug trafficking over the Mexican border do require more security and specialization, we'll grant that. However, the United States also does a lot of other legitimate trade with Mexico and should check that we are continuing to have strong, positive relationships with our international neighbors. Stop wasting valuable Homeland Security resources trying to remove students and their families. People looking for an education or a job are not bad people, and shouldn't be removed.

It is a wildly pompous ideology to believe yourself entitled to things that others are not only because your mother happened to give birth to you in an American hospital and you grew up speaking English. None of us choose our birthplace, our skin color, or our accents, but who cares 'cause we were born in the States and English is not our second language.

The only people who really choose to be American are those who continually fight for the right. Almost all of us in Iowa get to be an American by birth, but immigrants want it so badly they are willing to live a life of trials and secrecy just so they can escape some persecution and give their children a chance for a better future. We cannot think of anything more American than that.


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