As I write this an infrequent snow is covering Pahrump with a layer of gleaming white freshness. It is beautiful outside. With a fresh cup of hot coffee I open a newspaper to read. A front-page article in the Las Vegas Sun jerked me back to the sad reality of the world we live in. The article is headlined âCitizen of Nowhere.â The sub-headline reads âJessica speaks English, was raised in America, has an American education and American sensibilities. But she is not an American. She is here illegally.â
Jessica was brought into the United States at age 4 by her parents who came from Mexico on a work visa and stayed. She has no memory of Mexico. Like many parents they enrolled her in school. She grew up speaking English. She is American, culturally, mentally and educationally. She has a younger brother born here in the United States. He is an American citizen by birth. She is an undocumented immigrant.
Jessica won an essay competition while in the third grade, attending an award ceremony at UNLVâs Artemus Ham Hall. She was selected as the âStudent of the Yearâ in the eighth grade at age 13. Her school wanted to reward her by paying half the cost of a class trip to Washington, D.C. along with 50 other students. She aspired to be a student at UNLV.
Her parents would not let her go for fear her status as an undocumented immigrant might be discovered. She discovered the stigma of being ostracized.
It is claimed that there are from 57,000 to 68,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year. âMany immigrant parents push their children to excel academically, believing the American dream is achieved through education.â There are 300,000 students enrolled in the Clark County School District. Almost 42 percent are Hispanic. How many of that percentage are undocumented immigrants is unknown, reported the Sun.
But graduation from high school presents a barrier to many undocumented immigrant children. They want to go on to college, but are blocked because they have no Social Security Number, thus no financial aid. Some colleges require social security numbers to attend and report those who donât have one to immigration authorities.
What is the incentive in trying to excel if it just leads to a dead end? Jessica said, âI donât belong anywhere. I donât have anywhere to go.â
Jessica is one of those undocumented minors that would have been included in the DREAM Act. The Act passed the House of Representatives on December 8, but it failed to pass a procedural vote in the Senate. Both Democrats and Republicans are included in the vote. The Act is stalled.
âThe Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. illegally before they were 16 years old and who have lived here for five years a path to citizenship. Included in that was a 10-year period as a permanent resident alien and at least two years of college or military service before they could apply and be granted citizenship,â wrote Kendall P. Stanley, a retired editor for the Petoskey News-Review.
Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign was one of those votes that voted No on limiting debate and moving forward with the DREAM Act. Senator Reid voted Yes.
To me it is a sad commentary on people that obstruct such congressional bills. Those undocumented immigrant kids that could achieve higher goals in their lives, to the enrichment of America, are innocent of any guilt of their parents. Why should they be punished for the sins of their parents? I hardly think that being an innocent undocumented immigrant is a sin.
Senator Ensign is likely to face an insurmountable wall in his quest for re-election. He can expect, and should, energetic opposition from the Hispanic community in Nevada. And he should.