Illegal immigrants come out
College students across America called Wednesday, March 10, 2010 a “National Coming Out Day.” In Chicago, Detroit, New York and Boston, illegal immigrants proclaimed their illegal status carrying banners that read “Undocumented and Unafraid.”
The students plan additional events and hope to call attention to the plight of approximately 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. They seek federal reform of the immigration laws, even at the risk of deportation.
According to the PEW Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C. about 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Many were brought to the U.S. by their parents as babies and have closer ties to U.S. culture than their native countries. The young adult population (between ages 18 to 24) is estimated at 3.2 million.
Many in this group are in college or are college-bound. They live in fear of getting kicked out, losing scholarships and financial aid and being unable to find jobs.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has introduced a bill in Congress that would allow high school graduates to continue their education or join the military as a way to become legal in the U.S. Read more about this bill and the DREAM ACT.
What are your thoughts about immigration reform? Is this a subject you’ve discussed at school or at home? Is there a credible solution to the 12 million illegal immigrants in legal limbo in the U.S. – one that respects the rule of law while recognizing humanitarian rights and dignity? Or should the latter even be part of the conversation?
Update: Although the DREAM Act failed to pass in 2010, see here the story of one 26-year-old college graduate who continues the fight in 2011. Isabel Castillo waitresses to support herself. She cannot get a Social Security card and has become a voice in the effort to get this legislation through Congress. See her story in the New York Times below.
The Latest: On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order authorizing undocumented children to remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation. They must have been brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and are under 30 years of age. They can apply for a work permit if they have been here for five consecutive years, have no criminal record, have completed high school, a GED program or served in the military. A background check will be done and the permit may be renewed every two years. Since this is not a law passed by Congress, it is subject to change under a new president. One fear is that those who come forward and identify themselves as undocumented by applying for benefits or a work permit may be subject to deportation in the future if the policy is changed or reversed.