Peter: Citizenship is not amnesty, I realized, but a reward for their incredible work ethic and perseverance - Define American

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Peter: Citizenship is not amnesty, I realized, but a reward for their incredible work ethic and perseverance

I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. In 1964, I drove 27 miles from UCLA to my home to vote in my first election for Barry Goldwater. I am a former prosecutor, and the 33 years I worked for a private law firm were mostly spent representing large corporations. Yet, contrary to many conservatives, I have come to strongly support the Dream Act as a new and innovative path to becoming a US citizen. I decided to blog because Jose's story reflected the lives of many young people who society needs as citizens.

After graduating from UC Berkeley, my youngest daughter worked representing student leaders of the various University of California campuses, and she introduced me to and explained the plight of several of the students who were undocumented (who were also student leaders and respected by their peers). She gave me a book called Underground Undergrads which was filled with stories of UCLA undocumented students. What I learned was that in most cases, they had been brought to the US at very young age and had literally grown up in American culture, society and schools. Against all odds they had avoided becoming gang members or drug dealers and had excelled academically both in high school and at the university. They were bright, articulate, polite, interesting and everything else society values.

I changed my mind on this issue when I realized the extreme obstacles these young people have overcome. I have raised 5 children, all of whom have graduated from college and I know how tough it is even when everything is in your favor to get a degree (something these kids did with honors.) Citizenship is not amnesty, I realized, for the acts of their parents over which they had no choice or control, but a reward for their incredible work ethic and perseverance. My youngest daughter is extremely liberal and this issue is one of the very few upon which we agree.

In Sacramento where I live, a recent story in the newspaper told of a young woman studying to become a pediatrician that the US is trying to deport. She came here as a young child, and when she graduated from high school, her classmates voted her most likely to change the world! As conservatives, this is the very person we want to be a citizen of this country. I suggest, therefore, that we conservatives reconsider our position on the Dream Act, and we see that it is passed as soon as possible.


from Peter
submitted to Define American on July 12, 2011 at 15:01

We hope to share more stories that "define American" and beg critical questions about the state of immigration in our country. Submit your story here. Names are changed to maintain anonymity.

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