Bush Missed a Chance to End Bigotry Against Immigrants

As President George W. Bush eloquently accepted in New York City the  nomination as Republican candidate for the presidency of the United  States last September 2nd, a devastating hurricane moved slowly across  the Caribbean on its way to Florida.

By failing to address the need for immigration reform as one of the  linch pins to galvanize the American economy on his acceptance speech  that night, President Bush chose to leave the social hurricane of  bigotry slowly gather strength.


Bush chose to forget the wise words of President Abraham Lincoln who  once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand.


As long as there is no continuous or progressive immigration reform in  the United States, the United States is a society unequally divided in  the opportunities it offers its people because of their immigration  status.


A central focus of President Bush’s address was the hope of education  for all children.  He even spoke in Spanish to say, “No dejaremos a  ningún nií±o atrás.”


When discussing the hope of education, he noted that a school in  northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School, is mostly Hispanic  and  90% poor and that the philosophy of the school was to do what it takes  “to get kids across the finish line” as its principal put it.


The statistic is significant because of what the Republican  presidential  candidate did not say.


What President Bush did not say was that it was very likely that some  of  these children were undocumented and that some of the parents of these  children were undocumented as well.   It is unclear whether any of  those  Hispanic children are of Brazilian descent.


Furthermore, President Bush did not say that none of those undocumented  children in Georgia or in the United States had any hope to legalize  their immigration status because of their educational achievements  given  that he himself did not make the DREAM ACT a political priority.


One flaw with President Bush is not the English he speaks but his  inaction to support legislation favorable to undocumented children.Among the Immigration Law reform bills which are presently stalled in  the Republican-led Congress, the DREAM ACT is the only bi-partisan bill  which seeks to give a work permit to undocumented High School graduates  who enroll in a college or university as well as Lawful Resident alien  status to these same students who graduate from a four-year college or  university.


The idea is to open the doors of equality through educational  opportunity to undocumented students who excel in school.


The sad reality of present-day America is that only one of every four  High School graduates goes on to graduate from an American college or  university.


It is a given that the DREAM ACT is not an amnesty or a carte blanche  for anybody who is in an undocumented status in the United States.  Despite such truth, President Bush has yet to support the DREAM ACT.


The DREAM ACT has the support of hundreds of community-based  organizations, churches and labor unions, and the support of thousands  of students and graduates along with their families.


When a group in the United States is paid lip service by showcasing  their achievements and at the same time the doors of educational  opportunity are shut down for them because of the immigration status,  it  is at that point that the specter of bigotry rears its ugly head.


In his patriotic speech last September 2nd in New York City, President  Bush paid lip service to Hispanics when discussing the hope of  education, because he knew full well that education is a top priority  for them.


However, the doors of educational opportunity are shut down for  undocumented Latino children and their parents as long as they are not  legalized.   The largest segment of the 10-15 million undocumented are  Latinos.


Because President Bush has not supported the DREAM ACT, he allowed his  own words about the “soft bigotry of low expectations” mentioned in his  acceptance speech simply trap him.


President Bush’s promise not to leave any child behind in the area of  education is an empty promise as long as he has taken a rain check on  immigration reform for undocumented children.


Will the American presidential candidate who stands for “the soft  bigotry of low expectations” please raise his hand?



Edgardo Quintanilla is an immigration lawyer in Sherman Oaks, California. He welcomes your comments at eqlaw@pacbell.net.

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