It’s a Nightmare Until it’s a DREAM (Act)

Of course this is a nation of laws and, of course, laws are meant to be followed. And, in the absence of just laws, compromises are made…and, where necessary, people do what they believe is best under the circumstances with which they’re faced. And, so…what should a person who is caught in between laws do in circumstances such as these?

This is a case that has come to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

Claudio Vallejos’s parents wanted to give her the best start in life — when she was just fourteen, they moved her from Mexico to the U.S. Claudia attended an American high school, has American children, and is proud to call North Carolina home. But now, eleven years later, North Carolina is considering not letting her drive because of where she was born.

For Claudia, a driver’s license is more than a piece of paper. Not being able to drive legally means not being able to take her kids to school, go grocery shopping, or even see a doctor. It means having to take her five year old out of ballet lessons because she is too ashamed to keep asking for rides. It means missing soccer games with friends.Without a driver’s license, everyday life is an everyday struggle.”

DREAM ActMany of us take for granted that we can use whatever means are at our disposal to make life more convenient for ourselves and our children. But for people such as Ms. Vallejo and others who, through no fault of their own, are in a position that places them at odds with the law, this simple act of driving a car has become a big deal. This is a prime example of how in the course of discussing legal and political matters the numbers, statistics, studies and reports take on a cold and less than human tone even though the subjects discussed are real, live humans with very real needs and day to day concerns.

North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory will be presented with a petition asking to allow that Ms. Vallejo is allowed to drive her children to school.

“Claudia is one of 1.4 million people brought to the U.S. as undocumented children who now hope to be on a path to citizenship (a group named DREAMers after a piece of legislation). While the specifics of this process are being debated in the Senate, the federal government has ruled Claudia and others like her are here lawfully.”

Immigration is still a contentious issue and will probably remain so even after bi-partisan legislation to change current laws are put in place. On one side there are people who view immigration reform as an act of ‘amnesty for illegals‘ who have broken US laws, and on the other hand there are people who say that creating a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is the only sensible thing to do given that the immigrants have already taken up residence in the US, and their children are often punished for actions taken by their parents over which the children had no control.

As the ACLU noted, in almost any other state Claudia Vallejo would be allowed to drive. The government has said DREAMers – the children of undocumented immigrants – are in the U.S. legally and the State Attorney General of North Carolina is in agreement…but, on this issue, North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles is undecided. Last week, one of the first states to deny DREAMers the right to drive, Michigan, reversed their decision and now North Carolina’s governor will be asked to step in and show leadership to fix this.

If you’re interested and in agreement that the Governor should show leadership on this issue, add your name to the petition being delivered to Governor Patrick McCrory’s office next week. If you’re not, bring a coherent argument to North Carolina and let the officials know why you believe that a woman legally obtaining a driver’s license and bringing her children to school will upset American values.