September-October 2012

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PASS THE MIC Editorials, Comments, and Opinions It's About Dreams—and DREAMers Get It on T Annaluisa Padilla by Padilla is AILA Secretary and owner of the Annaluisa Padilla. La Habra, CA, Law Offices of "DACA IS ALLOWING THEM TO PURSUE THOSE DREAMS AND PARTICIPATE IN THE FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM THAT ROMNEY TOUTED, AND TO HARNESS THEIR EXTRAORDINARY CREATIVITY AND TALENT TO CREATE TOMORROW'S PROSPERITY." the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative has catapulted immigration to the forefront of the presidential race. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seek the highest office in a land where a badly broken immigration policy has led to the proliferation of ugly, racially charged immigration laws in states such as Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia. Suddenly, in the wake of the DACA announcement and the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on Arizona's SB1070, the immigration debate couldn't be more electric. With Election Day less than two months away, Americans are becoming increasingly energized and are scrutinizing the candidates' views. he U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) announcement1 AND THE STAKES COULDN'T BE HIGHER. Under DACA, undocumented immigrants can get a temporary reprieve from deportation if they can prove: (1) they were brought to the United States before the age of 16; (2) are younger than 30; (3) have been in the country for at least five continuous years; (4) have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; (5) do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and (6) graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.2 policy could help promising young immigrants come out of the shadows, sustain themselves economically, and help rebuild our economy. This WHERE DOES ROMNEY STAND? Romney has struggled to offer a consistent, even coherent, response to DACA. While he attacked the DREAM Act during the GOP primary, Romney now criticizes Obama's new policy because it is a temporary solution. The Republican National Convention in late August in Tampa avoided the topic of immigration, while parading several party members of immigrant descent, such as Haitian-American Mia Love, Indian-American Nikki Haley, and several Latinos, including Governor Susanna Martinez, Ted Cruz, and GOP superstar Marco Rubio. During his acceptance speech, Romney's closest reference to immigration was his comment about the moment "when every new wave of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty, or knelt down and kissed the shores of freedom," none doubting "that here in America, they could build a better life." He brushed over his Mexican roots, noting only that his father had been born in Mexico, that his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution, and that he'd grown up with "stories of his family being fed by the U.S. government as war refugees." Romney focused on family values and the economy. He talked about working long hours, and building a business: "It's the genius of the American free enterprise system—to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow's prosperity ...." He added, "It is about dreams." What Romney failed to recognize is that smart immigration policy is sound economic policy; the two are inextricably intertwined. Immigration reform that considers the PASS THE MICROPHONE is a chance to share your story or your client's story with colleagues and members of the public. We'd love to Pass the Microphone to you! Contact voice@aila.org. VOICE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 23

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