Monday, November 05, 2007

Get It Done, Already

It's no secret that I'm disappointed in our 110th Congress. So far, they've bungled passage of bills on children's health care, withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and our BUDGET, among other things, while minor issues (non-binding resolutions and the whole Armenia thing) take center stage. Now, I understand that our Executive has the power of veto over bills he finds distasteful, but a Congress that was "swept" into power to challenge a President with a sub-30% approval rating should be able to at least make their case to the American people that they are right and he is wrong. I see Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid behind a lot of podiums, attempting to react to the rhetoric of W, but we have yet to get a veto-proof majority on issues which the country clearly supports. They should be out there on the morning talk shows and the Daily Show explaining the reasons why we all should be in favor of giving these kids a shot at a real future.

The worst example of this is the demise of the DREAM Act. Because I'm lazy, I'll let Wikipedia describe this bill...

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (also called "The DREAM Act") is a bill that has been introduced several times in the United States Congress that would provide a path to American citizenship for immigrant students and those wishing to join the United States military.

To qualify, the immigrant student or soldier would have to meet certain requirements such as:

* Proof of having arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger.
* Proof of residence in the United States for a least five (5) consecutive years since their date of arrival.
* Must be between the ages of 12 and 30 at time of bill enactment.
* Having graduated from an American High School, or obtained a GED.
* "Good moral character," essentially defined as the absence of a significant criminal record (or any drug charges whatsoever).

During the six years of conditional status, the eligible immigrant would be required to either (1) graduate from a two-year community college, (2) complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or (3) serve two years in the U.S. military. After the six year period, an immigrant who meets at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident (green card) status. During their temporary time, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, though they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.

If the immigrant does not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six year time period, her or his temporary residence would be revoked and he or she would be subject to deportation. During the six years, the immigrant must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years. Being convicted of a major crime, or drug-related infraction would automatically remove the six year temporary residence status and he or she would be subject to deportation.

If the immigrant meets all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, he or she would be granted a permanent green card with the same rights as a permanent resident alien, including the right to apply for U.S. citizenship

The fact that a small cadre of racist Republicans has managed to mount a campaign to derail this bill is not what sparks my anger. It is sparked by the inability of Senate and House leaders to LEAD against this campaign. A bill that is so obviously good for our country and THE RIGHT THING TO DO has suffered criticism and a filibuster, but the leaders of Congress should be able to rally their troops to push ahead something so fundamentally beneficial to both immigrant children and our national interest. Even a few stand-up Republicans have expressed support for the idea of the DREAM Act, but even with this bi-partisan semi-support, Nancy and Harry just couldn't get the job done.

The sad truth that I have come to realize is that our current Congress is led, as it always is, by men and women more interested in reelection and donor payback than legislating for the national good. I'm loosing faith in our democracy. Can anyone help me to get it back?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God! A substantive posting! Bill confused!

Listen, you could always go back to the Republicans. We got a ton of stuff done: substantial tax relief, trade pacts, eliminated a ton of regulations, and kept the country on an even course. We even pumped hundreds of billions into the country, which, as a Keynesian, you can't be upset about.

Come home, Wade, come home...

2:37 PM  

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