On October 12, I participated in a panel discussion at the Widener Law School, sponsored by the Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA). LALSA endorses the DREAM Act, and I was on a panel with three others persons who argued in support of the legislation. I knew going in that FAIR was extended an invitation to “offer the other side of the argument,” but it was a well-organized event that was a serious attempt to deal with a serious issue. There were some in the audience who totally rejected my arguments in opposition to the DREAM Act, and some even expressed hostility towards me personally. But my hosts and co-panelists, one of whom was a self-professed “DREAMER” – a young man who stands to benefit if the DREAM Act passes, or who could face deportation if it does not – were respectful to me and sincere in their arguments. I strongly disagreed with their position, and they with mine, but we did agree on several points; most pointedly in condemning the political games that politicians in D.C. are playing with the DREAM Act.
I appreciate LALSA giving FAIR the opportunity to make our case at their event. It is easy to win an argument against an imagined opponent, but the real challenge is to make a compelling argument in the face of tough, critical, face-to-face resistance. There were several members of the audience who came up to me after the panel and thanked me for presenting my views. They told me they were still undecided, but that what I had said made them think more deeply about the DREAM Act, its provisions and its consequences for U.S. immigration policy. For me, that was very gratifying. Part of FAIR’s mission is public education, trying to cut through the rhetoric and misinformation that characterizes much of the “debate” about immigration policy. What I hope at least some learned last week was that opposition to the DREAM Act is not a personal attack on those who entered the United States illegally as youths; it is a fight against a terrible piece of legislation. The more people learn about the DREAM Act, the more they are likely to understand this.