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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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