An eye-opening exploration of the DREAM Act and those who have tried to find safe harbor in the United States under its aegis.
Relating her often poignant narrative through tales of aspiring citizens such as a Bolivian immigrant who arrived as a child, remained illegally, and has since become a leading activist in immigration-related causes, Wides-Muñoz, the vice president for special projects and editorial strategy at Fusion TV, examines changes in legislation and the national mood alike over the last 20 years. The DREAM Act, she writes, was the outgrowth of a George W. Bush–era series of legislative efforts to make it more difficult for so-called illegal aliens to find a path to legal permanent residence and even citizenship. The “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act,” born of an unlikely alliance between Sens. Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, recognized that children brought to this country illegally were not willful criminals and therefore not deserving of punishments such as being denied educational opportunities. The story is full of ironies: the postal worker who discovered anthrax in the mail had long overstayed a tourist visa, while “the second US casualty in the [Iraq] war turned out to be a young man from Guatemala who had crossed the California border illegally.” After 9/11, writes Wides-Muñoz, efforts to improve the status of DREAMers were put on the back burner. During the Obama administration, those efforts were halfhearted enough that Hispanic voters “sat out the 2010 election in greater numbers than white or black voters,” to disastrous results for the Democrats in the face of the tea party onslaught that would go on to put Donald Trump, an avowed opponent of the act and of immigration, in the White House. Against that new tide of anti-immigrant sentiment, the book concludes, the DREAM Act may be doomed despite efforts in the Senate to initiate meaningful immigration reform.
A well-crafted, timely contribution to the immigration debate.