May 19, 2010

Protecting the DREAM

Arizona’s conservative immigration law, which is scheduled to go into effect this July, has spurred a slew of protests around the country, including a statement of opposition by the city of Richmond, which voted to impose a moratorium on conducting public business in that state. It has also inspired similar legislation proposals in states that believe that local law enforcers have the responsibility to report illegal immigrants to federal officials.

In the midst of this debate, and the larger question of how the United States should deal with the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants living within its borders, it is easy to overlook the stories of individuals who are stuck within the quagmire of ineffective immigration policy.

Many undocumented immigrants were brought to the U.S. by their parents as minors. They have attended school in the U.S., speak English fluently, and yet are still treated as foreigners without rights.

Critics of illegal immigration often demand that the undocumented “get in line” to obtain lawful status. But for many immigrants, including those who are college-educated, financially supporting U.S. citizens, and/or have been living in the U.S. for 20 years or more, there is no “line” for them. There is no lawful way for them to remain in the U.S.

Or if there is, the wait may be several decades, despite having a spouse or child who is a U.S. citizen. This is why advocates of comprehensive immigration reform say that systemic changes are so urgently needed.

Click here to read the interviews have been conducted with immigrants represented by lawyers belonging to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Many of these lawyers have seen their clients needlessly suffer, and are therefore in favor of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The names of some of those profiled have been changed in order to preserve their anonymity.

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