Eighty-six percent of Americans stand behind the Dreamers. Too often, behind phrases such as “illegal is illegal” hides a streak of racism that complicates a compassionate response to the issue of immigrant workers. Hard working, tax-paying humans who are doing work that most Americans refuse to do.
Immigration law today is the very same as it was immediately after the Immigration Act of 1990. All law allows for “prosecutorial discretion,” and for many years this has been the approach taken by enforcement. Good guys are OK. Bad guys need to be prosecuted. However, in recent months perpetrators of even the most benign misdemeanors have been treated the same as those committing violent crimes. Under the uncompromising guise of “illegal is illegal,” Rep. Dave Joyce and Sen. Rob Portman have been unwilling to address the brutal way many of their law-abiding constituent families are being treated.
Since becoming actively involved with the Friends of HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Lake and Ashtabula counties), I have seen how immigrant mothers and fathers are being summarily rounded up by zealous I.C.E agents, jailed, deprived of appropriate legal representation and fast-tracked for deportation. One cannot listen to these stories firsthand without wondering in what country or what century we are living. Authoritarianism must stop now. We must seek creative, bipartisan solutions that allow for a path to citizenship, first for the DACA recipients, and then for the many immigrants, who in their diversity, commitment to hard work and support of American values, contribute in a myriad of ways to the evolution of a healthier society — one in which we can all take pride.
class of 1965