Tuesday’s GOP Primary Debate in Florida found Gingrich and Romney competing for frontrunner status. Another thing they now apparently share is a position on the DREAM Act. After earlier proclaiming that undocumented, long-term residents should not be kicked out of the country and (I thought) sounding sympathetic to the plight of undocumented youth, Gingrich announced that he does not support the current DREAM Act. Instead, he only supports the granting of permanent residency for 2 years of military service, not 2 years of college attendance. Romney interrupted to announce that that was his position on the DREAM Act as well! The Wall Street Journal provided an excellent analysis in this short video http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-the-immigration-debate/CE624846-D433-4162-9027-7080D06408FA.html.
Gingrich went on to maintain that residency through military service is an option that is already available. While it is true that after 9/11, legal residents could serve in the military and apply for citizenship, this is not an option for undocumented immigrants! (If so, why would that provision need to be included in the DREAM Act?) Perhaps unofficially, undocumented immigrants sometimes serve during wartime (http://www.visalaw.com/05mar5/2mar505.html but to enlist in a branch of the U.S. military, legal residency and a green card are required (http://www.army.mil/faq/).
This apparent support for something that could give legal residency to young people is somewhat encouraging, but it is a very limited option. Additionally, neither Gingrich nor Romney seem to understand the current immigration system, neither has had a coherent or consistent opinion on immigration or specific plans for action or reform, and neither candidate seems to care about immigration reform, to put it mildly. (The limited support for a hypothetical pared-down DREAM Act seemed wrung from Romney, and Gingrich never emphasizes how he would reform immigration.) Additionally, Romney’s response to the issue of undocumented immigrants was to prohibit them from working (presumably through an e-verify program). This would make their lives unbearable enough that they would “self-deport.” http://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/blog/blog/self-deportation-a-real-tactic-to-dehumanize-immigrants/
In his State of the Union address, Obama mentioned the DREAM Act favorably, but he both failed to put political weight behind the proposition when he had a Democratic congress, and has allowed his administration to deport many who would qualify for the DREAM Act. In my book, Gary Johnson is by far the candidate most likely to reform immigration. http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/issues/immigration
Melissa Manske is a nursing student and occasional substitute teacher. She researches immigration law and tries to bring awareness about it.
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