Public frustration with current immigration policy never seems to fade into the background these days. At Congress.org, Ambreen Ali reports that reform activists are planning to press Senators to vote for the Dream Act next week. Their campaign will include lobbying visits in Washington and district offices, as well as demonstrations.
The Dream Act would provide a path toward citizenship (through education or military service) for young people brought to the United States as children. Those directly affected are incredibly sympathetic, and advocates have found many hard-working high achievers, whose lives have been stalled by the absence of papers. See, for example, the story of 19 year old Eric Balderas, high school valedictorian from Texas, now studying biology at Harvard (Boston Globe link). (See Roberto Gonzales’s report Young Lives on Hold, sponsored by the College Board, which supports the Act.)
The Dream Act addresses only a small part of America’s immigration problem. Activists have focused on it, hoping that the compelling stories will help break the legislative logjam on immigration. So far, they’ve been wrong; the Dream Act has been on the agenda for a decade.
Current immigration policy satisfies no one, and activists on both sides of the issue are frustrated, feeling that their efforts haven’t produced anything. In fact, their efforts have succeeded in stalling their opponents, effectively preventing any kind of substantial reform.
And opponents of comprehensive reform also offer selected stories, often focusing on horrific crimes. The Washington Independent reports conservative activist groups putting out a call for dramatic stories.
Obviously, valedictorians and murderers comprise a tiny fraction of the 11-12 million undocumented people in the United States. Each side picks the story…and the policy agenda…they think is big enough to be worthwhile, yet small enough to be possible.
And they will tell stories, organize demonstrations, and lobby to try to make it happen.