Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Plea to My Fellow Parenting Advocates

"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children."
~ Lilian Katz

Being a parent means that I care more about everything.  It isn't just about things that affect me, or even anything that affects my children, but things that affect anyone's children.  We all have our hot button issues, of course.  For me, peaceful parenting and breastfeeding are two biggies.  However, I also care very much about circumcision, vaccination risks, car seat safety and several other topics that I don't blog about as much (which is one of the reasons for my Facebook page--to share more links!).  I am grateful to all the bloggers and writers who take time to advocate for children.  While you may choose to highlight different topics than I do, we are in this fight together to make the world a better place for our children.  Now I am pleading with my fellow advocates here in the US to consider a new topic that few are writing about:  the DREAM Act.

There are millions of undocumented children in the US who have been forced into a shadow life.  These are children who did not make the choice to come here, and often are not even aware of their undocumented status until they want to get a job or attend college.  Then their world comes crashing down.  They don't know any home other than the US (they can't even visit or else they wouldn't be able to come back to the US).  They often don't speak any language other than English.  They are ethical, hard-working, responsible kids who want to be productive citizens of the United States.

Once they graduate from high school, though, that becomes nearly impossible.  If they are caught, they will be deported.  Can you imagine the terror of being deported to a country you don't remember, that speaks a language you don't know, with no prospects?  So they are forced into hiding their status and praying that they never get caught.  But not getting caught means that they are also denied their potential.  They can't finish school or achieve their dreams.  Regardless of how moral and ethical you are, it is pretty tough to stay away from crime when your only other option is deportation.  Some lose hope and commit suicide.  Some are sucked into gangs and other criminal activity.  Most do their best to be good people and just stay under the radar any way they can.

I understand there are strong differences on both sides toward illegal immigration and how to fix our entire system.  I am not trying to get into that now.  The thing is, regardless of what you believe the consequences should be for the parents, these kids did not choose to come here illegally.  Denying them the chance to become legal citizens is immoral, unjust, cruel and just plain stupid.  It does nothing to help our country or the citizens of the US.  It actually hurts us all.  There is a lot of xenophobic vitriol spewed that is full of misinformation (just like with vaccines, circumcision and other topics).  This isn't an automatic amnesty bill--the requirements are rigorous, and all it does is give them a chance, not a guarantee. 

I don't care what your political views are in general.  This is just a human rights issue.  If you haven't yet become informed about the DREAM Act, please check out some of the links at the end of this post.  Despite the recent defeat, there are many DREAMers who are not giving up.  Read the stories.  Read the legislation.  You have made a difference already by speaking up for children who do not have a voice, or whose voice is too easily drowned out.  There are more children calling for hope, for a chance to reach their potential and give back to the country they love.  Will you please speak up for them, too?

Some of their stories

Fact sheets

DREAM Act Portal

More info

1 comment:

Jan said...

I taught many students in this situation and it was just heartbreaking. All this bill does is allows them a path to citizenship through college or the military, so it's far from amnesty. we should be fighting to keep some of these young people, who would be a real benefit to our military and country...