This week the Senate blocked the Dream Act, legislation that would provide legal status to some undocumented immigrant youth if they serve in the military or attend college. An estimated more than 1 million young people, the vast majority of whom came to the United States by no choice of their own and consider themselves Americans, would have benefited from the legislation. Amongst them are various students in Alhambra.
Hector Tobar in the LA Times profiled a UCLA Law School graduate who would have received legal status if the legislation had passed. The Times columnist was hit with a wave of responses from what he called "an angry minority" opposing the bill, and decided to interview them.
He started with Alhambra resident Pauline Montion, a 78-year-old Arizona native. "The DREAM Act is nonsense," she wrote to Tobar. "Be proud to get educated in the U.S.A." Tobar called Montion and writes that had "a very pleasant conversation, in English that she peppered with a few Spanish terms of endearment such as mijo, 'my son.'" But he concludes: "What I heard from her and other DREAM Act opponents left me deeply worried about California's future."
In Montion's case, she identified as Mexican American, and described her mother as someone who came to the United States illegally. "Everything about Montion's life story suggested she should be more likely than your average American to support a law that would give the best and the brightest undocumented immigrants a path to residency," Tobar writes. "But Montion told me she was opposed to the DREAM Act because she figured anyone who had lived in the U.S. long enough to go to college and learn English should be able to find a way to get off his duff and apply for citizenship."
That may have been true when Montion was growing up, but the last amnesty was more than 20 years ago. For youth who crossed a border, like her mother did, even if it is involuntary, there is no path to citizenship today. Tobar concludes, "Having embraced a stereotype of today's illegal immigrants as dissemblers and manipulators, Montion is unwilling to embrace the legislative fix that would have allowed the brightest and most ambitious of them to become Americans in the eyes of the law."