Monday, December 13, 2010

Let's Talk about the Dream Act

The House of Representatives on Wednesday advanced the so-called DREAM Act, a top priority of Democrats who will lose control of the House in January and have less power in the Senate, making it all but certain that the initiative will languish for years if not enacted now.

Personally, I am not sure how I feel about all of this. I have some very close friends that are immigrants and have come here legally, struggling through all of the massive bureaucratic requirements and expenses along the way. I have a basic tendency to resent those who have come here illegally and now stand to be given special treatment. There is another side to this argument, however, that is very important. The humanitarian side says to me, “what about those who came here and have been here for years obeying the law and struggling to survive even with the “illegal status?” Haven’t they proved their true desire to be Americans too? And haven’t they proved they are more productive than harmful (as some conservatives seem to like to imply)? Where is our common, decent human compassion and understanding?

Having said that, I still don’t think it is fair to those who came here legally –carefully and faithfully following the law. Therefore, the question in my mind becomes “how to we solve this as fairly as possible?”

I did not like the Dream Act at first because I felt is sounded unfair to those whom did it right. After reading it carefully, however, I am not so sure. First of all, if a person has served in the military for 2 years, I think we should give them a foot up in line for citizenship, regardless of their “illegal status” –in fact, I am not so sure it needs to be 2 years. Secondly, if a person, who has been here since they were under 16 years old, has successfully finished 2 years of college, haven’t they proven they are a better potential citizen than the 25-40% of kids who are already citizens but drop out of high school? At least these immigrants can tell me who George Washington was.

Actually, I think the best way to resolve this is for our Department of Homeland Security to look at the immigration requirements and do a top to bottom revision. Let’s take out the unnecessary and out dated requirements we place on immigrants and let’s make the system easier, faster and less bureaucratic. If we are going to give special handling to those who came illegally (and I don’t see how we can avoid it) then let’s also give some special handling to those who came here legally. For example, if you give special status to someone here illegally who completes 2 years of college –what about all those here on Student Visa’s who have completed 2,3,4, sometimes 5 or more years of college successfully? Don’t they deserve some consideration too? Come on, fair is fair!

There is also a basic economic issue. They keep saying how much all this special status will wind up costing us in benefits. I don’t buy that for a second. All these people becoming citizens will have to start paying taxes here (not sending all that money back to Mexico) and they will have to contribute to Social Security (not keep working off the books cash jobs). Let's be honest here. These people find and work jobs. The vast majority of them do not rely on our welfare system, except for health care (and they have to because it is all they can afford). They are not sitting around drawing unemployment and refusing to take a job because it does not pay enough. Their doing it legally will increase our revenue base considerably and be a net gain, not a drag on our system. Anyone with just a little common sense can see that.

For me, the jury is still out on all of this. I listen to the conservatives and I understand where they are coming from. I listen to the liberals and I can relate somewhat to some of their arguments. I listen to the demands of the immigrant organizations and I am filled with resentment because they “demand” and they demand way too much. Then I stop to consider this for myself, based on my own values and sense of fair play and I know there is a better way to handle and resolve this issue.

On a slightly lighter note here is an interesting tidbit. It’s not even the new year yet, but Michael Moore is trying to lose a few pounds. Michael recently checked into a $4,500 a week luxury weight loss spa in Miami, a patron of the spa confirms.

Moore visited the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in mid-November. The resort’s campus features “650 acres of lush tropical gardens, fountains, water features and other amenities,” its website boasts.
Moore has visited Pritikin in past years and said he once lost 30 pounds by employing the center’s methods of eating “heavy foods.”

“I eat at least 35 grams of fiber every day. Eat foods that are heavy in weight but low in calories. I got this idea from Roger Ebert; he was the one who turned me on to the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. 
(Eating heavy foods) naturally creates the same thing as gastric bypass; it gives you a full feeling so you don’t want any more food,” Moore told reporters.

Hopefully, Moore’s recent visit helps. A fellow patron of the spa said he didn’t look well.

“He didn’t look like he wanted to talk. And neither did I. But he sure was fat, even fatter than he looks on TV, like he’d gained a hundred pounds,” the source said.

Live Long and Prosper...

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