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ImmigrationProf Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The human face of immigration failure

the failure of comprehensive reform has left promising students stranded through no fault of their own..

Lucy Bottomley, at 23, is a picture of the best of her generation. She's smart, articulate, connected to community and just a few credits short of her bachelor's degree from Washington State University. She wants to be a teacher.

But the federal government is about to throw away the promise of this young woman — and of many others like her — thanks to the failure of immigration-reform efforts. Bottomley is in the United States illegally — something that came as a surprise to her. Born in England, she moved with her family to the United States at age 10 under a visa that has since expired.

Two years ago, Bottomley's American dream fell apart. Her mother was deported. Bottomley, who grew up in Walla Walla, faces deportation Sept. 15 whether she has her degree or not. She got one extension, thanks to the intervention of Congressman Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton. Though his office has been intervening again, a spokesman said he is not optimistic.

Bottomley's problem would have been solved if Congress had succeeded in enacting comprehensive immigration reform. The failed bill contained a provision to give such students as Bottomley — brought to the United States as children through no act of their own — to earn legal status by succeeding in college or serving in the military.

While the larger reform is considered dead until after the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is leading an effort to enact the provision, known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. Originally proposed by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the effort has bipartisan support. Students in Bottomley's predicament are innocent of wrongdoing.

Better to help these young people, who have become American in so many ways, than to throw them out — not to mention waste the investment we have made in their public educations.

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