As mentioned by Brian, the federal version of the DREAM Act is up for a vote today. The bill would set on a path to legal status those children of immigrants who enlist in the military or enroll in college. Yesterday, college students who would benefit from this program were on Capitol Hill, lobbying Congress for passage. Tom Tancredo, noted jerk, called for the arrest of the students.
Democrats were planning to hold a press conference today featuring three college students whose parents came to the United States illegally in order to promote the DREAM Act. But the event was postponed after anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) called on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to arrest the three students:
“I call on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to detain any illegal aliens at this press conference,” said Tancredo, who claims to have alerted federal authorities about the well publicized press confrence. “Just because these illegal aliens are being used for political gain doesn’t mean they get immunity from the law. If we can’t enforce our laws inside the building where American laws are made, where can we enforce them?”
They eventually held the press conference anyway and nobody was arrested. Tancredo is not only being callous here, he’s being ignorant. One of the students has permanent residency status, and another cannot be deported because she exists in a kind of legal limbo. Her name is Tam Tran.
Tam Tran, whose Vietnamese parents came illegally to the US from Germany, has lived in the US since she was ten, is a UCLA graduate who wants to pursue a PhD at USC, but can’t because she can’t afford further schooling without federal student loans. The government can’t deport her family back to Vietnam because her father was persecuted by the communist government there, but the German government won’t take them back either. Tran said today she is in “permanent legal limbo.”
The last time Tran spoke out in support of the DREAM Act, in an article in USA Today on October 8, her family was detained by the ICE.
Just three days after the article appeared, federal officers entered her home in the middle of the night and forcibly arrested her family. Tran’s family was detained on a “years-old deportation order,” even though they have been in regular communication with immigration officials for almost 20 years since arriving in the United States.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the immigration subcommitee, equated the family’s arrest to “witness intimidation” and accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of targeting the Tran family because Tam “testified before Lofgren’s panel earlier this spring.” Earlier this week, USA Today spoke with Lofgren about the Tran family’s arrest:
“Would she and her family have been arrested if she hadn’t spoken out?” Lofgren said of Tran, who was not at home for the raid but has been asked to report to Immigration and Customs officials next week. “I don’t think so.”
This is shocking behavior for the ICE to undertake, and not only does it show the price for dissent in Bush’s America, but it shows how convoluted our immigration system is in the absence of a comprehensive solution. You can punish immigrants, who have no political power, or you can punish companies who hire the undocumented, who have loads of political power. In this case, the solution is clear; allow students who have known no other home to contribute to the country in which they were raised. Brian has the numbers; light ’em up.