Young immigrants have a DREAM

Writing in U.S. Catholic, Fr. Tom Joyce relates the story of Rigoberto Padilla. Rigo came to this country at 6, and eventually became an honor student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was caught running a stop sign after drinking beers, and, as an undocumented immigrant, had no driver’s license. ICE came upon him as he was locked up in Cook County Jail, and an immigration judge quickly ordered his deportation.

A campaign ensued among his fellow students and faculty at UIC to allow him to stay in the country, at least to finish his education – he is a junior and sociology major. One interesting aspect of the protest in favor of Rigo was that many of the organizers were in the same situation – undocumented students who were brought to this country at young ages. Like Rigo many no longer had effective contacts to their country of origin, may be had never even visited it, and see themselves as “Americans.” Now he can stay to finish his education, but there are many in our schools who have similar histories to Rigo’s.

I always thought our hard-nose attitudes on immigration, especially toward the young, was a waste of money and talent. We educated them in our schools and when they were ready to be productive citizens of society, we begrudged them help in the final stage of education. What a waste of talent!

For years Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) of Chicago has introduced in Congress the so-called Dream Act, which would extend to youth who were brought to this country illegally before 15 years and who went through our schools, the right to stay to finish their education and then even to apply for permanent residency.

Read more here.

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