California’s DREAM ACT too late for some?

Here in California, there has been a lot of news and commentary around the possible passage of the The California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was featured on a recent NPR story:

Illegal immigrant students in that state’s colleges may soon be eligible for state-funded financial aid. A bill called the California Dream Act is working its way through the state legislature. It would allow students who attended at least three years at a California high school to apply for financial aid.

NPR’s Carrie Kahn has our report.

CARRIE KAHN: Sofia Campos came to California when she was six. Her parents brought her and her two younger siblings from Peru. Campos said she had no idea her family had overstayed their visas. She didn’t find out she was here illegally until she was ready to go to college.

Ms. SOFIA CAMPOS: When I was 17, I tried to apply for federal financial aid. So I asked my parents for the Social Security number, and that’s when they had to tell me that I didn’t have one. [link]

President Obama is on the record as supporting the DREAM act nationally and it was introduced (yet again) in the US Senate in May of this year.

This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. legally or illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, the students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States,” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.”[3] Military enlistment contracts require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years.[4][5] “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.”[6] [Wikipedia].

But this might all be too late for Mandeep Chahal. Deportation day could be Tuesday. You might want to write a letter against this if you have a minute today:

Mandeep, a DREAM Act eligible student, and her mother face imminent deportation on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Mandeep grew up in Mountain View, California and attended Santa Rita Elementary School and Egan Junior High School. She graduated from Los Altos High School in 2009 and is now an honors pre-med student at UC Davis.

Mandeep came to the United States in 1997 when she was six years old, and only discovered she was undocumented when she was 15.

If Mandeep and her mother are forced to leave, their family will be torn apart and Mandeep’s two U.S. Citizen siblings will be left without their mother. [link]

Kids shouldn’t pay for the “sins” of their parents. Especially if they work hard and have the potential of making our society better. Enough with the out of control “enforcement only” way of dealing with immigration.

27 thoughts on “California’s DREAM ACT too late for some?

  1. I don’t believe that people who jump the queue and come here illegally are sympathetic. There are plenty of people waiting in line, and the US can’t take just anyone and everyone–it would become a madhouse. Queue-jumping is an act of aggression and selfishness.

    • A voice of sanity! If the US starts to make exception after exception, it will be no different from (say) India where the rule of law is practically non-existent. This might, however, be the happy future certain liberals envision for America.

  2. Who is volunteering to investigate the background story of Mandeep Chahal ?

    How did she come here in 1997? Why is her mother being deported (and how will that tear-apart the family) ?

    If you’re going to post two links to submit petitions, I’d really like to know what I’m petitioning for.

  3. I am not signing any petition until we are told why they overstayed. She at least got the benefit of staying 15 years in this country. What is wrong with the two American citizen siblings having to immigrate to India temporarily until they get to college age?It is not the end of the world. At least, they got citizenship thanks to their mom breaking the law.

  4. How about doing something for those who are here legally? EB2 and EB3 priority dates are awfully backed up, and some applicants for the green card have been waiting for years to simply file.

  5. Such laws throw dirt in the face of folks who have spent years trying to obtain residence legally. There are so many students who are here legally, paying out-of-state tuition with money sent by parents overseas, and they still cannot be permanent residents unless an employer sponsors them, after which they wait for 10 years for their turn. Children do have to pay for parents’ choices. And the family still has a choice – take your savings and leave as a whole family, go back to India and finish school. A few hundred million kids study in India, you can too. Similarly with the Mexican illegal immigrants. Such laws are intended to attract the Latino vote, pure and simple.

    These parents pay no taxes all these years (how would they, without a SSN) but want their kids to get taxpayer funded scholarship. Great way to encourage the begging bowl.

  6. I do not wish malice upon anyone legal or illegal. Some understanding of the plight of legal immigrants would be fine. Non-Green Card high schoolers (whose parents are stuck in the pre/I-485 or post-485 queue) have a difficult time. Some states like Texas deem 485-filed-but-not-approved kids to be residents for tuition purposes. Others like Ohio offer in-state tuition to any kid who has completed high school in the state. But these exemptions are all too rare.

  7. be an effete liberaltarian for a second and consider disconnecting the benefits of citizenship from fulfillment of the illogical rubric we apply now. It would then not be necessary for a piecemeal legislative approach to assure nativists, state by state, that the brown people coming in don’t meet absurdly maximal standards for “bad people” like being violent criminals (a standard many natives would not attain.)

    If Chahal wanted to, instead of pre-med, do fire-spinning and burlesque, our moralists-in-charge (sainted authors of this DREAM act) would deny her the chance to stay. As mad as the deportation is this legislation is equally nuts.

  8. Agreed with most of the comments – I’m not writing a letter. What’s wrong with deporting illegal aliens when there are thousands waiting for their turn legally in almost every other country on earth? Nothing.

  9. There is nothing wrong in Indian colleges and universities. She can easily get a good education there.

    Also, with 2 US siblings. There is always the long-term option of the siblings sponsoring their mother.

  10. If Mandeep and her mother are forced to leave, their family will be torn apart and Mandeep’s two U.S. Citizen siblings will be left without their mother if they opt not or refuse to leave with her

  11. huh. i never thought of some these issues deeply in terms of the analogy between many who have temporary papers and those without. i’m naturalized, and my family went from being student visa to sponsorship when i was pre-teen. but i remember the last year of my dad’s phd, and the few years of work visa extensions. it was stressful, i had never been to school in bangladesh and was (and am) illiterate in bengali, but technically i was bangladeshi, and once the visa ran out we’d have to go back. i do remember a stray thought that it was kind of rude of my dad to bring us over so young because he missed us, and have us become basically american, but we were on his student visa so it could have been temporary and i’d have to go back to bangladesh. that wouldn’t have been horrible, they probably would have put me in an english medium school. or at least that was the plan if immigration didn’t pan out. anyway, most people in our cohort got sponsorship. but some did not, or some wanted to go back wherever they came from. it was traumatic and stressful for the kids from what i remember. i recall a few family’s were talking about overstaying for the kids, but most went back if they had no options. these were professionals and i don’t think they would have been able transition well.

    anyway, i sympathize with woman, and everyone in her situation. if you were in the same position you’d do what you’d have to do, plain and simple. but i think it is not feasible to evaluate these issues on a case-by-case basis if you don’t know someone personally (if she was my friend i’d be doing whatever i could too). we need to think in terms of the overall system.

    p.s., deportation has been delayed btw

    http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_18322988?nclick_check=1

  12. How do these kids get through school without an SSN? Even pre-schools require the child’s SSN these days.

  13. I had to move to India as a kid because of a family situation. I hated it initially. But you know what. Life goes on. I am back in the US. I take the positives of such a situation. So I dont think it;s the end of the world if American citizens have to go to the Indian subcontinent or similar countries because of a deportation order issued to the parents. Life goes on.

  14. Illegal is illegal and they should bear the consequences for breaking the law. It is immaterial whether the parents were responsible or not. Upholding the law is paramount and there are no grey areas in that. should the law be calibrated to emotional parameters then the US is on a slippery slope to self imploding hell.

  15. I agree with majority sentiments here – there is a reason why there are immigration laws -

    the way this argument is structured implies that as long as anyone lands up in US in whatever means and has a kid should be given legal status because heck that kid would be US Citizen by virtue of being born in USA and now if you deport the parents since they are illegal that is equivalent to separating them out.

    As I say, there is a reason why there are immigration laws – if you are going to give this sort of loophole then everyone should get to know that so that they dont unnecesarily do the right stuff by returning after their visa expires and lose out on an golden opportunity like this!

  16. Recently a Chinese “birthing center” racket was busted in CA where Chinese women were put up to have their babies in the US to obtain citizenship. The fact that the US grants citizenship just by birth is being misused in ways the writers of the Constitution never imagined. The apologists for these scammers sugar coat the stories like its a Lifetime tv movie.

  17. I don’t have a problem with Illegal immigration. It is “illegal” because there is a law against it, not because it is wrong. Every human being will try to improve their condition, and provide for a better life for their family and children. They’ll do it whatever way they can.

    For people who are against illegal immigration, I suggest watching the 30 days series episode about it (episodes are on hulu). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_Days_%28TV_series%29 Fair warning: You might cry once or twice while watching it.

    My problem with this post was that it did not contain anything about this case, and yet contained two links that go directly to a form petitioning someone. It is like you’re asking me for my sympathy without telling me why I should sympathize with this particular case. If the forms were for a general push for DREAM act, that would have been ok, but this wasnt.

    Too often bloggers do a call-to-action gimme-your-sympathy thing without really investigating and providing details, leaving people like me wondering if they really care about this issue or was it just one of those, “hey man, you run a blog yea? can you post this for me”.

  18. I always have a hard time understanding how these supposedly brilliant, over-achieving kids got to the age of 17 or 18 without ever realizing their immigration status.

    If she’s that dumb or uncurious, she’s not going to make a very good doctor.

  19. I personally do not think illegal immigration is evil or anything. If you can get away with it, more power to you. After all, the original settlers and the westward expansion weren’t exactly achieved by ethical or legal means.

    Having said that, I have more of an amoral stance to illegal immigration. If you get caught, then for the sake of the system, there needs to be some ejections to keep everyone as honest as possible. Yes, you can look at them on a case by case basis. If you left your home country for truly valid reasons, and there is absolutely no family or friends or possibility of living on your own in India, then an exception can be made. But the illegal immigrant should not be expecting to stay because it is their “right” to do so or it is the “right thing” to do.

  20. Not sure if srs. You guys are acting like being sent to India for a few years is a death sentence. It isn’t. India isn’t a warzone, assuming they have some money saved up or family there they can live quite well.

    I don’t see why anyone should be able to abuse the law and have their kids get away with benefits that they wouldn’t have without the lawbreaking. It is not punishing the kids, if they had been born in India would that be a “punishment”? This kind of language is rooted in Orientalism.

  21. Interesting thoughts so far!

    My opinion in regards to illegal immigration is more of human rights one. I work in an urban public school in Texas, and I know a lot of people who are undocumented. I don’t think illegal immigrants should necessarily be punished. Most are here to better their lives, work extremely hard, and are scared as hell of getting caught. They work in deplorable conditions for less than minimum wage, don’t seek medical care until their bodies cannot sustain disease anymore, pay their bills, and for the most part don’t complain about anything. I think the people who employ undocumented workers should be severely punished, not the workers. I also think that it should be easier to immigrate into this country. Why is there such a long wait list?

    As far as the DREAM Act is concerned, why would we want to deport intelligent, hard-working, driven children who have grown up here? Why would we send young people with a lot of potential to another country, when they grew up in this one? I understand that there are a lot of smart people from India, China, etc who are very intelligent who want to work here, but they didn’t grow up here. Do you have to have a piece of paper to say that you are an American?

    • A few thoughts….

      “I don’t think illegal immigrants should necessarily be punished. Most are here to better their lives, work extremely hard, and are scared as hell of getting caught.”

      They are not being punished in the sense that they are being fined or being put in jail. They are being deported, there needs to be fairness in the system for all those who legally immigrate here. Let us not be coy, many illegal immigrants are unskilled or low skilled labor who a) displace low skilled native workers and b) drive down wages for low skilled workers (Ironically it is great for people like me who are professionals since it keeps prices low) . While I feel no ill will toward them, there is nothing wrong with a nation putting the interests of its own citizens above those who are foreigners.

      “They work in deplorable conditions for less than minimum wage, don’t seek medical care until their bodies cannot sustain disease anymore, pay their bills, and for the most part don’t complain about anything. “

      I think that description is embellished. Most illegal immigrants may not make great salaries but very few live wholly deplorable circumstances.

      “I also think that it should be easier to immigrate into this country. Why is there such a long wait list?”

      Because hordes of people want to come here not mention family reunification, H1Bs, and student visas displace others.

      “As far as the DREAM Act is concerned, why would we want to deport intelligent, hard-working, driven children who have grown up here?”

      I believe the DREAM Act only requires that you have a high school diploma or GED which is a pretty low bar and realistically does not require many of the traits you have quoted. If an immigrant truly has valuable skills that this country has a shortage of he or she would be able to easily secure an H1B visa.

      “Why would we send young people with a lot of potential to another country, when they grew up in this one? I understand that there are a lot of smart people from India, China, etc who are very intelligent who want to work here, but they didn’t grow up here. “

      If a country had a choice between a doctor, engineer, or scientist who would greatly benefit the tax base and consume little if any social services vs. a high school grad who may be on the dole for the rest of their lives who would you choose?

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