Now that young illegal immigrants are an election-year football, Americans have an opportunity to learn a few things from the kids.
A lot of adults profess some degree of sympathy for these young people, who were born in undocumented parents’ native countries, brought here as very young children, either illegally or on visas parents overstayed. They’ve grown up here, gone to school here, speak English and feel American but are undocumented “through no fault of their own,” as both President Obama and GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney say.
But why can’t they go back to where they were born, line up and become legal “the right way?"
Young illegal immigrants have been asking the same sort of question for years, as demonstrated on forums started by so-called DREAMers. That’s the name for this group that derives from the once-bipartisan DREAM Act. The decade-plus-old failed federal proposal would have opened up a path for these youths to earn temporary legal status, and, eventually, a green card by serving in the military (which they can’t do now) or completing at least two years of college.
Here’s some of what DREAMers have learned. And they aren’t the kind of details you will get, lamented a Washington Post editorial, whenever the subject of immigration gets batted around by Romney, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — a GOP point man on the subject — and, to a lesser degree, President Obama.
Lesson one: As DREAMers now know, there is no Ellis Island-like line for them or anyone else to get into, either here on U.S. soil, or back in birth countries, to become legal immigrants. Visas to enter the United States are not open to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as they are willing to be patient and do it the “right way.”