Congress should pass the DREAM Act
The Arizona Daily Star
Jul. 25, 2005
The star's view: The
attempted deportation of four Phoenix students shows the need to give the
U.S.-reared children of illegal entrants a way to become citizens.
Federal immigration officials picked the wrong case when they decided to
prosecute and try to deport four Phoenix high school students living
illegally in the United States.
But it was exactly the right case to illustrate the sort of people who would
benefit under the proposed federal DREAM Act that would allow students to
become citizens after high school graduation.
The case was thrown out on Thursday because officers targeted the students
based on their appearance. Nevertheless, all still face possible deportation
because the government may appeal. But it was wrong then to round up the
students based on racial profiling. It's just as wrong now to continue an
attempt to deport them.
All four students - Jaime Damian, 20; Yuliana Huicochea, 20; Oscar Corona,
20; and Luis Nava, 21 - were Wilson High School students taking part in a
solar-powered-boat competition in 2002 near Buffalo, N.Y.
They planned to go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when they were
apprehended by immigration authorities. Federal agents became suspicious
when one of their teachers asked whether the students could use student
identifications to re-enter the United States.
During court proceedings they testified they were aggressively questioned,
and the agents made racially tinged comments in front of them. The case was
thrown out when the judge ruled that key evidence based on racial profiling
would not be admitted.
These students should remain in the United States, and they are examples of
why the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act
should be passed by Congress. All were brought here as children by their
parents. They are ethnically Hispanic and were born outside the United
States but were raised here and are culturally mainstream Americans.
They are achievers. The fact that they were taking part in an international
science competition when they were apprehended has not been lost in the
legal proceedings. Every one of them has graduated from high school. Three
are attending community college. Nava, 21, this month received his business
degree from Arizona State University.
If they were deported, the students would be going back to an unfamiliar
country. And they would be doing so after having been separated from their
parents and families. This case, as we said, is bigger than the individual
students. And it is not unique.
At stake, the Phoenix students know, is the proposed law aimed at people
brought here as children. It would legalize students who have "grown up
here, stayed in school and kept out of trouble," according to the National
Immigration Law Center.
Across the country, about 65,000 students who meet those criteria graduate
from high school each year.
The DREAM Act was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R.-Utah, and has
bipartisan support. But congressional leaders did not allow a vote before
the previous session ended in December.
The prosecutors have said they will appeal this case. They should not. To
pursue a case against four foreign-born Americanized people makes the
federal government appear malicious. And it does nothing to soothe racial
and ethnic tensions in this country. Nor does separating families by
punishing the children for the acts of their parents make much sense.
The Phoenix four were stunned by the favorable outcome of their case. Now
they say they will continue to work for passage of the DREAM Act. They have
won at least a reprieve, and we believe allowing them to reach their dreams
as American citizens would only be appropriate.