A firestorm of disagreement among immigrant activists erupted when the Dream 9, a group of undocumented people brought to the country as kids, were arrested and detained at the border.
David Leopold, a tireless legal advocate for immigrants responded to the act of civil disobedience by calling it a “publicity stunt.” Concerned that their actions could complicate their future status under whatever new immigration reform is passed by Congress, Mr. Leopold said the activists were being “flippant about U.S. law and U.S. policy.”
Mathew Kolken, an immigration lawyer, criticized Mr. Leopold for making assumptions about the facts of the cases for the Dream 9 and potentially having “deviant motivations” of defending the Obama administration “at all costs.”
Also in response to Mr. Leopold’s concerns, Voxxi quoted a Dreamer activist who said that Leopold “shouldn’t be speaking in the first place” because he wasn’t undocumented and it wasn’t his place to question the tactics of the Dream 9.
I have voiced my own concerns about the tactics of Dreamers and their impact on the debate over immigration, and it seems as though these activists have once again made the issue about themselves, not about immigration reform.
Lost in the discussion over Dreamers, college-bound undocumented immigrants, are the many millions more who shingle our roofs, wash our cars, mow our lawns, and care for our children. They dream too, but you wouldn’t know it by the discussion going on this week.
Once again, the question is not whether one is for or against the mission of the Dreamers. It goes without saying that all undocumented Americans should have the opportunity to be formally integrated into society.
But given the determination of the GOP in the House of Representatives to delay immigration reform, perhaps into next year when it can be used as an issue to mobilize the Republican Party’s core voting bloc, the temptation to settle for a limited immigration package could be too great for enough Democrats who want this fight to go away before next year.
When this new round of debates over immigration got underway, many Dreamers were boastful of their role in coaxing the Democrats into a resurgence of support for reform, but that energy seems to be waning, and perhaps before the will to do anything is gone, these Dreamers wanted to remind Congress to at least not forget about them.
Maybe that is all we can ask of the Democrats, but nine months after yet another election, we not only seem not much closer to reform than we were in 2007, but its clear the that the price tag Republicans are asking is for a steel frontier running across our border.
Maybe some version of the Dream Act always was the best-case scenario. If so, the Dreamers have sure earned it.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.