Follow Your Dreams

Americans used to be dreamers. But we did more than just dream, we acted.

We dreamed of building a canal connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. And did it.

We dreamed of a railway across the entire country. And did it.

We dreamed of a GI bill to offer some compensation for the sacrifice of World War II. And did it.

We dreamed of building the most advanced scientific research center in the world. And did it.

spaceWe dreamed of going to the moon. And did it.

We dreamed many things once thought impossible and turned them into a reality.

To borrow, and alter a bit, the line from Anne Hathaway’s lyrics in I Dreamed a Dream,

“We dreamed a dream in times gone by…”

It would seem now we no longer dream of things we can accomplish but instead retreat into fear from things we don’t understand and the winds of change.  Like it or not, this is a global community in which we play an important, but not exclusively dominant, role.

Instead of focusing our efforts on what we can do, we focus on what we fear we cannot do. This mantra of making America great again misses the point of what American greatness is. It is our willingness to lead by example, not protect ourselves at all costs. To take risks for the greater good, not insulate ourselves from failure.

We used to be the country that learned from mistakes and turned them into success.

George Bernard Shaw wrote several apropos lines. “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.“ I wonder what historians will say about this time in America. Will it reflect the best in us or the worst?

Shaw also wrote, “You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not?”

I agree.

Why not find a way to offer a path to citizenship for innocent individuals who wish to do nothing more than embrace what for many is the only country they’ve ever known?

Why not find a way ensure every single American has access to the best healthcare in the world without the threat of financial ruin?

Why not pursue every available diplomatic solution to international problems before resorting to a military option?

Why not pursue green energy and reduce the undeniable impact of human activity on Climate Change? Even the Secretary of Defense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis when he was an active duty Marine recognized the threat to national security Climate change posed. He begged for an alternative to his armored forces being tethered to their fuel supply, primarily for strategic purposes of course, but coupled with the Defense Department’s long-held recognition of the threat of Climate Change.

If spending twenty-five billion dollars of American taxpayer money on a wall (with no contributions from Mexico as promised) makes you feel better, then have at it. I think it may be a wall ultimately proven ineffective.

I think, given the expertise and competence within the criminal justice system, the experience and input from the border states who’ve lived with the problem, and some rigid deportation enforcement for illegal aliens who commit crimes, the same amount of money could be spent in more efficient ways.

We Americans are dreamers.  Those of us lucky enough to be born here often forget the fortunes of birth. Those who dream to come here, or remain here, may see things in a much different light.

But let me be clear about one thing, a path to citizenship reflects the best American has to offer.  It is not unconditional. Commision of a crime, no matter how trivial it may be perceived, should negatively affect your chances. Serious crimes negate it entirely.

Break the law, leave the country, or we will show you the way out if you refuse.

The promise of America remains a bright beacon. One we should strive to preserve. We all have a responsibility to that promise.

In the words of Robert Frost,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.


Frost may have been talking about death, but these promises are our daily efforts to fight for what we believe in and against those who would seek to return America to darker times of racial divide and isolationism. To live a life in pursuit of one’s ideals is a life well-lived.

The night of the President’s State of the Union, the line I remember most is this.

“Politicians may be judged by the promises they make, America is judged by the promises we keep.” Here’s a hint, he didn’t say it.

Once again we as a country have reached a point where the torch must be passed to a new generation. New ideas, new dreams, new goals, not some foggy clouded memories of former greatness. America doesn’t need to be great again; we never stopped being great in the first place.

A former Vice President once said his father told him that this country was so big, so strong, so resilient that no President could ever do permanent harm.  Let’s hope he was right.


Rational Immigration Policy

There are two immigration policies undergoing intense scrutiny. The Temporary Protected Status Program (TPS), which is an established policy within the United States immigrCustoms and Immigration Service and DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals.)

Temporary Protected Status Program

The program falls under the aegis of the Secretary of Homeland Security who, when circumstances warrant, grants temporary protections from deportations for individuals from areas undergoing specific problems.

(From the United States Customs and Immigration Service Website)

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

  • Are not removable from the United States
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
  • May be granted travel authorization

Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or gives any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

  • Applying for nonimmigrant status
  • Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
  • Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible

Here’s the list of countries and the date of designation granting temporary protected status.

  • El Salvador    2001
  • Haiti                2010
  • Honduras       1999
  • Nepal               2015
  • Nicaragua       1999
  • Somalia           1991
  • South Sudan   2011
  • Sudan               1997
  • Syria                 2016
  • Yemen              2015

Aside from the extended period such designation has applied to some countries, there is something else that troubles me.

Nothing prevents those allowed into the country from applying for citizenship through normal channels. It would seem that individuals here from El Salvador, for example, since 2001 have had ample opportunity to seek citizenship.

Since the program is “temporary” protection, why is there any surprise or outrage if Homeland Security exercises their lawful discretion in terminating the program?

One can make an argument about conditions in Sudan or Somalia, perhaps, as ongoing. However, the situation in El Salvador that triggered the designation as long since passed.

I am not without sympathy for the plight of many in the world. Moreover, I think the US bears a great deal of responsibility to use our wealth and power to promote human rights in the world, but those who live in these countries bear the obligation to seek to change conditions in their own countries, not merely enjoy the hospitality of the American people.

I think the TPS program is a shining example of the best of America and I think the temporary nature of it need be recognized.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Senate Bill S 1291  was introduced in 2001 and known as the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). It has been reintroduced on several subsequent occasions but never enacted.

President Barrack Obama signed an Executive Order Jun 15, 2012, creating the DACA program as an interim.

The order was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, a Supreme Court decision barring public schools from charging illegal immigrant children tuition. The policy was officially established by a memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security titled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.” This policy allowed certain immigrants to escape deportation and obtain work permits for a period of two years- renewable upon good behavior. To apply, immigrants had to be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, must have come to the U.S. when they were younger than 16, and must have lived in the U.S. since 2007. In August 2012, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people were eligible.

So far, 800,000 individuals have applied for the protections. Applications are no longer accepted.

The DACA Program, a temporary humanitarian effort, is another example of the best of America.  We do not punish someone for the act of another.  Human beings brought here as children should not be callously deported from what may be the only country they have known.

The image of Immigration Agents separating families for deportation for no other reason but undocumented status is horrifying, raising the image of lines of Jewish women and children, separated from their husbands and fathers, in the depravity of Nazi Germany.

However, with that said, if someone brought here as a child, educated by public schools, enjoyed the opportunity (not the guarantee, opportunity) of the Amercian Dream yet has made no effort at obtaining legal status or citizenship, it gives me pause.

America has a big heart. We have demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice our blood to defend others in places far from America; Belleau Woods, Normandy, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Inchon,  Chosen Reservoir, Hue, Afghanistan, and when many of those battles were over, we extended the hand of friendship to our former enemies.

The charity of America is enormous, but not unlimited. We should offer hope and help, not unending handouts.

I think ending DACA is a mistake if we sacrifice innocent people in pursuit of such a policy. Stopping the Temporary Protected Status designation is a grave error if the conditions that triggered it still exists. I believe it is necessary if they no longer exist.

However, I also think asking people to help themselves, to make an effort at repaying our support by either reclaiming their own country or respecting the law and seeking citizenship here is more than reasonable.


DACA: Trump Upholds the Law and Fails the Spirit of America

President Trump’s decision to rescind support for DACA correctly recognizes immigration reform as a responsibility of Congress. Congress enacts laws, the President Trumpenforces those laws, and the Courts ensure the laws meet constitutional standards.

As much as I may disagree with the spirit of the decision, the President, no matter if I support or object to his politics, is not empowered to alter either the Constitution or the law.

If President Trump decided he would no longer enforce equal rights, we would berate him.

If President Trump decided he would no longer enforce fair labor law, we would chastise him.

If President Trump unilaterally decided he would not enforce any of the laws of the country to which he is charged with upholding, we would excoriate him.

Conversely, we should not expect or accept a President who creates or changes laws without Congressional action. What President Obama did with DACA was a temporary measure to address an injustice. Congress failed to act. Our focus should be on Congress to fix this.

While I agree DACA needs revision, Trump’s decision is political pandering at its worst. Even he recognizes the inertia paralyzing Congress. Thus, he can throw it back in their court and at the same time appease the significant number of bigoted jingoists that support him. He has about as much sympathy for Dreamers as he had for any tenants he foreclosed on in his real estate empire.

If the President harbors genuine sympathy for Dreamers, he would summon the leaders of Congress together and formulate a plan to make DACA irrelevant. He would help foster a change in immigration law that recognizes the travesty of visiting the crimes of the parents on innocent children.

Despite claims to the contrary by the simpletons who embrace these lies, Mohammed the neurologist is not trying to take Billy Bob’s job at Seven-Eleven.

Dream on that this Congress, or President, will ever put the needy before their own political survival.