Tina Griego wrote about The Dream Act’s latest rude awakening in today’s Denver Post ( Despite her support for it, she actually exaggerated the ability of a child brought here in infancy to gain legal permanent residence (LPR) status. She said, “To get back in you must have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or have a permanent legal resident as your sponsor.” Actually, only in some very rare circumstances are either of those possibilities. More often, the best you could hope for is to get at the back end of a twenty-something year waiting list for family members of various categories, and as for an LPR sponsor, not so much.

But the point is that the kids in question have no legal path to citizenship, or even legal residency. They are Americans in all but name, often with no real connection to any other country, no knowledge of the Spanish language, no more affinity for life in Mexico than a suddenly impoverished and deported Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck would have. We deprive them of opportunity, despite, in these cases, their having been model citizens, served in the military or attended college, stayed out of trouble, in short, been good Americans.

Some Americans thrive on turning the world into in-groups and out-groups, and managing to just not give a damn about those in the out-groups. And then they are eager to cut off our own national nose to spite our own national face. If we provide a path to LPR status for these people who are on the path to being productive citizens, we end up with productive citizens, contributing to our shared wealth, not contributing to crime rates and other social problems. If we don’t, we continue to breed a festering social illness within our borders, a group of undocumented people with little opportunity to succeed, a group that, despite the mythologies of the right-wing demagogues, can’t be removed to any significant degree at a price even those demagogues would be willing to pay, and will, in many instances, end up with little choice but to become predators rather than the productive members of society that they had worked hard to become.

The truth is, the Dream Act isn’t just good for those kids who some would rather throw under the bus; it’s good for all of us.

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