Click to play video Terry Greene Sterling on the people in her book 'Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone'


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Note to Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer: Hang out With Mexicans
Note to Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer: Hang out With Mexicans

Governor Jan,

You need to hang out with Mexicans.

You won’t  of course. You  can’t afford to politically. The people who support you would likely not approve, because they don’t hang out with Mexicans, either.

But Governor Jan, if you’d spent the day yesterday with Dreamers, those kids you derided as “illegal immigrants”  in your press conference, you would see them as a national treasure, not as a threat to America.

Yea, you were right. President Barack Obama’s administrative order was completely political. Yesterday he gave  Dreamers, non-criminal undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who have lived here for at least five years and were brought to the country illegally as children by their parents,  temporary deferment from immediate deportation and a chance to stay in the United States to attend college or serve in the military, and to work here.

But if you’d hung out with Dreamers in their Phoenix headquarters, you would have seen that regardless of the president’s motivation, his actions give America a boost. We need them.

In Arizona, many Dreamers excel in science and math and have engineering degrees. A while back, Angelica Hernandez (we’re good friends, full disclosure) was the top graduate in Mechanical Engineering class at ASU. She’s going on to  a prestigious Califronia graduate school for a Master’s degree.

Not a single taxpayer dollar was spent on Angelica’s college education.

She is really really smart, and, more importantly, driven. She is who she is despite the obstacles of poverty and racism. She never once hated the people who created those obstacles.

Instead, she boned up on complicated science and math, hoping one day to contribute her engineering acumen to a nation suffering from a shortage of engineers. The president’s administrative order gives her a chance to do that.  She actually looks forward to working and wants to pay taxes.

If you’d come down to the Arizona Dream Act Coalition offices on Friday, you  would have met Daniel Rodriguez.

Here is his picture.

IMG 1046 300x225  Note to Arizonas Governor Jan Brewer: Hang out With MexicansHe’s a born  leader who is attending law school.  Hours after the Senate failed to pass the Dream Act in 2010, I saw him by chance in a coffee shop with Dulce Matuz. (She’s  another Dreamer who would go on to become  one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2012.) These two young people weren’t feeling sorry for themselves in the wake of the failure of the Dream Act, which would have given them a pathway to citizenship if they attended college or joined the military. Instead, they were planning their next political strategy.

Dreamers have been increasingly politically active and have been honest about their immigration status. The president gave them this small break because he knew their  drive, honesty and patriotism have earned them a place of honor in the hearts of many Americans of different ethnicities.

So the president was shrewd in making a political move that granted these kids relief from deportation so they can continue their studies and bolster the  middle class or keep America safe from terrorists.

The nation is changing. Dreamers are emblematic of that change. And many natural-born Americans  are happy to have them here.

Indeed, the National Journal reported recently on a Pew Research Center study that tells us something about white Americans. The study, which was started in 2002 and continues today, indicates that the majority of college-educated white Americans and/or white Americans younger than 30 do not see “newcomers from other countries” as a “threat to American values.”

Those who feel threatened by Dreamers are older whites who grew up before America was integrated, and/or high-school educated whites who think Dreamers  will take their jobs.

Dreamers are way,way too educated and driven to take the jobs of high-school educated whites, but they will certainly hire them. And  they’re training in health care professions to take care of the older whites, who, when they get to know Dreamers, will likely not  be so freaked out.

So long story short, Governor Jan, you were right that the president’s move was political, and yea, it will give Dreamers a break from  an SB 1070 stop, detention or arrest. But SB 1070 is already being seen for what it is — a political emporer-has-no-clothes law aimed at getting votes by  scaring white Arizonans  over nothing. We have long been in  an era of record-low illegal immigration. And even if the Supreme Court okays it now on narrow issues, just wait until the high court rules on SB 1070′s civil-rights violations.

And even if Mitt Romney beats Barack Obama in November, don’t count on Romney rescinding Obama’s Dreamer order. Unless there’s comprehensive immigration reform that gives our nation’s law abiding long-term unauthorized immigrants some sort of relief, that Dreamer order will likely stay, no matter who is president.

Romney, like Obama, is a politico. He understands that  Dreamers are respected and loved by many American voters.

You’d know why, Governor Jan,  if you hung out with Mexicans.

 

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