Story of Eric Balderas Illustrates Perversity of Current Immigration Policy and the Need for the DREAM Act this Summer
Washington, DC – Few stories more dramatically demonstrate the counterproductive nature of our broken immigration system than that of Eric Balderas. Balderas, a 19-year old Harvard biology student with aspirations of becoming a cancer researcher, may face deportation after being detained earlier this month while trying to board a flight. Balderas was returning to Harvard from Texas, where he was visiting his mother, who had fled Mexico to escape domestic abuse when he was only four years old. In the United States since then, and valedictorian of his San Antonio high school, Balderas has no memory of his Mexican birthplace. His first language is English, and he does not speak Spanish well. The Balderas story, as well as hundreds of other of similar examples, is a perfect example of why Congress should pass the DREAM Act without further delay.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Eric’s story speaks volumes about the dysfunction of our current immigration policy and the need to pass the DREAM Act this summer. It makes you wonder what possible objections any Member of Congress could possibly have to embracing Eric and thousands of other young people who are Americans in all but paperwork.”
Under current law, undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. since a young age have no way to regularize their status. Though they have grown up speaking English and watching Sesame Street, they are threatened with deportation regardless of their contributions to their communities or potential for achievement. The DREAM Act would permit these young people to become permanent legal residents if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, and complete two years of college or military service. Despite broad support from most Democrats and a handful of Republicans, the DREAM Act is opposed by the likes of former reformer Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and hard liner Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Said Sharry, “Instead of moving to detain and deport Eric and other young Americans facing similar circumstances, Washington should be moving to grant them citizenship. Eric is well on his way to achieving the American Dream and doing great things for the nation, but only if our policymakers do the right thing and give him the chance to do so.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.