Joaqin Luna had all the trappings of a bright future. He was ranked in the top 20% of his high school class of over 450 students. He dreamed of being a civil engineer. Additionally, he was dedicated caring for his diabetic mother.
The only problem that Joaqin Luna faced was that he was an illegal immigrant. Born in Reynosa, Mexico, Joaqin faced continued difficulties in his effort to try to assimilate and take advantage of the resources in this country. In particular, his lack of legal status made getting a part time job or applying to colleges and universities a nearly impossible task.
Given that he knew the difficulties facing him, Joaqin did the most drastic thing possible and committed suicide the day after Thanksgiving. His family believes that his immigration woes led to Joaqin to commit suicide. In response to this tragic news, students across Texas have begun to protest with signs stating “I am Joaqin” to pressure state leaders to pass the Dream Act.
Several other states continue to debate the Dream Act. Most recently, the fight has moved to California with AB 131. AB 131 will allow illegal immigrants in California to obtain critical state funding in order to further their education. The University of California system has been a staunch advocate of AB 131 as they believe these hard working and dedicated students should not face obstacles because of their economic or immigration status. There is much opposition to AB 131 by the Tea Party as they have already collected 505,000 signatures in the state of California to show their opposition to the bill. Their concerns focused primarily on the high costs for the state of California with AB 131 as California is already facing bankruptcy.
In Maryland, Dream Act opponents have lead an effort to have the Dream Act decided by Maryland voters in a referendum. Dream Act supporters in Maryland have struck back as they believe there should be no referendum on the Dream Act because it qualifies as a spending bill and therefore cannot be subject to referendum under Maryland law. The Maryland version of the Dream Act would cost the Maryland state government an estimated $778,000 next year.
With the death of Joaqin Luna, individuals in California, Maryland, Texas and every state debating the Dream Act must realize that there are larger personal ramifications to their decisions. The Dream Act is not an issue that will merely affect state coffers. It is an issue that has the ability to impact the future of thousands that dream for a better life in this country. For those that are hoping the Dream Act will pass, the emotional toll is great as shown in the case of Joaqin Luna. For the sake of Joaqin and thousands of illegal immigrant students that have dreams of success in this country, it’s time to stop opposition to the Dream Act.
Source: The New York Times of December 11.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.