We Are Who We Want To Be: Dreamers

Amodei 3Here’s a sample of what Nevada Representatives Joe Heck (R-3) and Mark Amodei (R-4) voted against on June 6, 2013 in the Congress of the United States of America —

“For most of her life Anna Ledesma has been afraid. She was a model student at Centennial High School in Las Vegas – an artist and a member of Key Club. As one of the top academics at her large high school, she received the Millennium Scholarship to study nursing at the College of Southern Nevada. Now she’s studying hard for her nursing exams. But 23-year-old Anna has lived for a long time with the constant fear that she will be deported.

Anna is an undocumented immigrant. She was born in the Philippines and brought here by her parents when she was 7 years old. She was in the second grade.”  [Reid Senate]

Individuals like Anna Ledesma are the reason for the Morton Memo directives.   And, as noted yesterday, on June 6th Representatives Heck and Amodei voted in favor of the King Amendment to H.R. 2217 which would prohibit implementation of those directives.

Yeah but: She’s still an “illegal immigrant.”  Coming here illegally is a crime.  Not so fast.  Note that Anna came here at age 7.  Nevada law is specific on the subject of who can be punished for a criminal act — and who can’t.

“NRS 194.010  Persons capable of committing crimes.  All persons are liable to punishment except those belonging to the following classes: 1.  Children under the age of 8 years. 2.  Children between the ages of 8 years and 14 years, in the absence of clear proof that at the time of committing the act charged against them they knew its wrongfulness.  3.  Persons who committed the act charged or made the omission charged in a state of insanity.”

You don’t have to get any further than item one to determine that she was not old enough to be legally capable of committing a criminal act in the state of Nevada.

The Infancy Defense is slightly different in the federal courts.  In terms of Common Law,  persons under the age of seven are presumed incapable of forming the requisite intent to commit a criminal act; a person between the ages of 7 and 13  “a child is rebuttably presumed incapable of forming a culpable mental state. ” [C&D]   U.S. law presumes the applicability of the infancy defense for children under the age of 11.

Yeah but:  “Dreamers” will crowd into our institutions of higher education and place an unconscionable burden on our already cash strapped institutions. [CIS] We could fix that by adequately financing our public colleges and universities — but that would require someone to pay some … taxes.  Most radical right arguments assume a high number of enrollees, and further  presume that no one — under any circumstances — should ever pay more … taxes.   Conveniently omitted from the conservative assertions is the fact that immigrant families DO pay taxes, and they also tend not to take into consideration the fact that individuals, like the Dreamers,  who complete college degrees add to the U.S. economy.

As of May 2013 the unemployment rate for persons with less than a high school diploma was 11. 1%.  The unemployment rate for high school graduates was 7.4%.  Those with some college experience or an associates degree are looking at an unemployment rate of 6.5%, while those with a college degree (or more) are experiencing an unemployment rate of 3.8%.  [BLS Table A4]

The logic is relatively simple — since those with more education are less likely to be unemployed they must be in the work force.  If they are in the work force they are earning money, with which they will make consumer purchases and pay taxes.   Why wouldn’t a government at any level want more individuals enrolled in post secondary education?  It pays off in the long run.

Meanwhile back at Senator Reid’s exemplar — I thought we needed nurses?  The median age of a nurse in this country is 46 and some 50% of our nurses are nearing retirement. [ANA]  Those who argue that there is no current nursing shortage (WSJ) seem to be assuming the recession is going to last forever.  Those nurses who put off retirement during the downturn are going to be looking at the prospect again as the overall economy improves.  And it does look to be improving for those in the “education and health care” sector, which saw a 5.3% unemployment rate in May 2012 and a 4.8% rate as of May 2013.  [BLS Table A 14]  The Occupational Outlook for registered nurses is a “faster than average” rate of +26% during the 2010-2012 decade.

Median pay for a registered nurse is about $65,000 annually.  [OOH]  So, if we perhaps had a few more individuals who would like to complete the training necessary to enter a field with optimistic prospects for employment, and to earn $65,000 per year which in turn flows into the economy with some of that amount paid in taxes — What’s the problem?

Yeah but: This is sending a “horrible message.”  [Atl] All those “illegal” people will clamor to send their children to American schools…. Kids the world over will leave their friends, their families, and their homes to come …. Whoa.  Some few might leave their families, but anyone who’s ever been accompanied by an adolescent offspring on vacation knows full well that removing the said adolescent from the peer group — even temporarily —  is the social equivalent of multiple root canal surgeries. So, if the extrapolation of Immigration Nightmares is patently irrational, what explains the opposition?

If the message that we want ambitious, education oriented, civic minded, enterprising, and industrious  individuals to come to this country is “horrible,” what would be the reverse position?  Not to put too fine a point to it, but for some opponents of immigration reform the answer is “Nobody.”  No one would be welcome, and they’d be even less welcome should the persons in question be non-WASPs.

This has been an all too common refrain, a chorus repeated as The Nation Was Being Changed From What We Were by — Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, Russians  — OK we’d have missed out on John Jacob Astor (born Heidelberg), the ancestors of Bill O’Reilly and Danica Patrick, Domingo Ghirardelli (Who doesn’t love chocolate? Born in Rapallo, Italy),  Max Factor, Sr. (born in Lodz), the fourth son of Slovakian immigrant Andrej Varhola, known to us as Andy Warhol,  and Yuliy Borisovich Briner (born Vladivostok, AKA Yul Brynner).     With no apologies to any of the Nativists — if they can indeed figure out who besides the Native Americans actually ARE natives — the Astors, the Patricks, the Ghirardellis, the Factors, the Warhols, the Brynners, the Longorias, the Musials, the Goldwyns, the Warners, the Sikorskys, the Sanchezes, the Trevinos, the Hinojosas — ARE who we ARE.

Maybe we were sending the right message all along?

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