I know a kid who gets up at 5 AM to make sure his Advanced Placement math homework is completed on time. He can’t do it in the afternoon, because he runs three seasons of track, belongs to a public service club at school, has practice for the school play, practice for the Senior Fashion show (boys model in it, too) and has this demanding mock trial coach who sucks 8-12 hours a week out of the team.

He’s not sure if he wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. I could definitely see him as a doctor. He has this calming presence, this Zen. He is just the person you want entering the room when you and your family are in a panic over gushing blood, or a malfunctioning heart, or some other dire condition.  He is soft spoken, gentle and empathetic; a perfect combination for a bedside manner.

At one point, I thought maybe he was too gentle a soul for the gladiatorial combat in the well of a courtroom. His cross examination seems so diffident. It seems soft to the point of pointless, unless the witness tries to pull a fast one. Then you watch this poker player’s “tell.” The head cocks to one side and you can almost hear him thinking, ”Oh noooooo, you did NOT just try to lie to MY face!”

Within two strides, he is at counsel table and, without shuffling papers, has already located the witness’s “sworn statement” out of the mock trial fact pattern he knows by heart. And then, he guts that opposing witness like a fish. He may be gentle, but he is not soft.

I was stunned to learn a few months ago that this great kid lives in daily fear of deportation.  He was brought to this country as a very young child. His parents have been hounded away by ICE. He lives with an older sibling and is essentially raising himself. He is raising himself to be a scholar, an athlete, a philanthropist and a fully engaged participating member of his high school community. He is every college admissions officer’s dream. He does this by virtue of his own very high intelligence, his own self discipline and his own gumption. Aging empires desperately need infusions of this kind of strong blood to reinvigorate their flaccid, self-indulgent populations.

There are many boys and girls just like the kid I know. They grew up eating brightly colored, over sugared breakfast cereal and Mac and Cheese from the Kraft blue box. They watched Sesame Street and Nickelodean. They collected baseball cards and played with Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids. They learned to skateboard and text in LOLCat-speak. It’s that pretty girl with the laughing eyes that has been in the same class with your own daughter since kindergarten, and who was at the pajama party this weekend oohing and ahhing over pictures of prom dresses in magazines.

If you deported these kids and sent them back “home” they would land in an alien culture where they might not even speak the language. Yet, Arizona is going to make people, including I assume kids, produce papers or risk being shipped away.   The Maine GOP just produced  a new platform that included “sealing the border”. The mayor of Albuquerque just announced that there will be an immigration check for every arrest. So, if a good kid is falsely arrested in a case of mistaken identity, won’t he still be “outed” as undocumented? Just typing this makes my blood boil.

So, what to do? Well, if you are not in a position to arrange a boycott, I have a suggestion. Call, fax and snail mail both of your Senators and your House Member and tell them to co-sponsor the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, is the brain child of Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch.

It allows a path to citizenship for kids who:

1) entered the United States before the age of 16 (i.e. 15 and younger)

2) have been present in the United States for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill

3 )have graduated from a United States high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education (i.e. college/university)

4) are between the ages of 12 and 35

5) show good moral character

There is all kinds of info and organizing tools related to the DREAM Act that can be found here. Don’t just get mad, get a DREAM and help create a path to full citizenship for that nice kid at your local high school.

photo: danima1820