POSTED BY REGINA CANTU
There have been a steady stream of high-profile deportation decisions in the past few weeks, and immigrant advocates are hoping the stories of undocumented students will help boost the cause of other unauthorized immigrants.
Last summer, many of them “came out” as undocumented immigrants in hopes that a nationwide campaign for a bill in Congress would put them on the path to legal residence. In December that bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House but subsequently failed in the Senate, after which the students were left with even greater uncertainty about their future.
President Obama stated in his State of the Union address and in interviews that he will continue to push the bill this year. But with Republicans in high committee positions who ardently oppose the legislation, even optimists believe the chances are poor to none that a bill will be passed in the next two years.
Obama says he supports their cause, and immigration officials say illegal immigrant students with no criminal record are not among their priorities for deportation. However, as discussed in an earlier matt.org post, federal immigration authorities removed a record number of immigrants from the country last year, nearly 393,000, while the local police are rapidly expanding their role in immigration enforcement.
Republicans who will lead their party in the House on immigration issues say illegal immigrant students should not be spared from deportation.Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, led the opposition to the Dream Act, calling it “an American nightmare” that would allow illegal immigrants to displace American students from public colleges.
In the weeks since the Senate vote, many young immigrants are coping with the letdown of having mobilized thousands for sit-in protests and visits to Congressional lawmakers. As a result, more and more undocumented students are reaching their threshold for frustration and a sense of hopelessness about their future. In their eyes, time is wasting for them to go to college, earn degrees and advance… and now, for the first time in months, it feels like nothing can be done about it.