In July 2011, the Fil-Am Observer published an editorial, “Dreaming of an Act,” in support of the federal bill, popularly called DREAM Act, and reintroduced in the United States Senate in May 2011, out from its slumber almost ten years after it was first introduced in August 2001.
The Observer was unequivocal then—and it has not changed its position in its support for the spirit of the proposed legislation: the giving of a window of opportunity for our young people who have known what American ethos is like, our young people who have practically lived all their life in the United States, and thus, knowing not much any other ethos, steeped as they are in the kind of style of life that they have seen in the union.
The intent of the federal bill is clear: a path to a lawful immigration status, a path that is otherwise denied to others.
The recognition that there is this invisible group of people—the immigrant youth in the margins; the immigrant youth pushed against the political periphery by reason of their non-lawful status as residents; immigrant youth that do not qualify as legal residents and yet are talented, gifted, and who have the potential to contribute to the greatness of this land; immigrant youth that are just out there but are never given the recognition due them, immigrants that are never given the public space they deserve; immigrant youth that are never given access to the resources that they need to develop themselves, get an education, and become productive residents, and hopefully, citizens—is something that must be thought about, again and again, with social justice framing our way of thinking.
Hawaii, with HB 1475, has come up with its own version of the DREAM Act.
The intents and purposes of the Hawaii legislative proposal is the same as the federal proposal: the access given to the children of non-lawful immigrants who are, by their being children of these immigrants, have been reduced as well as non-lawful immigrants even if so much of their life have been spent in Hawaii, and thus, have not known in a substantial way any other life.
Somewhere we have argued that the case of social justice as the frame through we take a look at this proposed law instead of looking at it from a narrow, even myopic ‘legalistic’ sense, might lead us a more productive debate—a more productive conversation—on this issue.
We speak here of basic rights, such as the right to education. International covenants have spoken, and reiterated, that we cannot deprive the young of this right to education.
The simple fact that the young are the same people that will hold the reins of the future leads us to a basic argument that we cannot now deprive them of the chance to prepare them so that they are able to acquire the skills they will need when it is their time to call the shots of our collective and social life.
We deprive our young of this chance to have a well-rounded view of life through education, we also deprive ourselves of our meaningful future.
We deprive our young of this chance to get the skills they need to become economically productive residents, and hopefully, citizens, we deprive Hawaii of an economically productive future.
We deprive our young of this chance to become well equipped with life-skills, we deprive this state with residents who are well trained in navigating their social life.
Anywhere we go, the argument is for the young and for a socially just and fair treatment of the young people among us.
Anywhere we go, we cannot close our eyes to the reality that we must now pave the way for a socially just and fair road for them so that in the future they will be able to pave a socially just and fair road for the others who will come after them.
This state and this country have been built upon the values of justice and fairness.
We cannot now renege on these values we hold dear.
Observer, April 2012