John McCain's Cowardice, the DREAM Act, and the Fasters

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Three days into her pro-DREAM Act fast outside the Phoenix office of Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, 23-year-old Dulce Juarez has a message for the ex-maverick.

"You supported the DREAM Act once," said Juarez when asked what she would tell the senator if she could. "Open your heart and support it again."

Asking Arizona's Tin Man to open what he doesn't have is problematic, though I admire Juarez and the handful of other DREAM Activists hunger striking outside McCain's offices as the DREAM Act heads for a showdown in the Senate.

Yesterday, when I stopped by the sidewalk camp the DREAMers have set up nearby McCain's office, Juarez told me she's prepared to go a week or longer, and is surviving only on water for the moment. 

Brought to this country from Mexico when she was five, Juarez is a couple of weeks away from scoring her masters in higher education from ASU.

The irony is, she can't really use it, because she can't work legally in this country. She's applied to remain, an application that's been pending for years. So she's still "illegal" in the eyes of the authorities.

"I can't stay in the country because I don't have a permit, because immigration hasn't given me one," she explained. "And I can't leave the country because I'll lose my case. They leave you permanently stuck in limbo to see how long you last."

Why do the Republinuts want to boot this intelligent, educated young lady from the country? I mean, if she were legal and scored a job with her sheepskins, she'd likely be paying as much in taxes or more than I do.

McCain has bent with the wind over the proposed legislation, which would allow those brought to this country when they were young to legalize their status if they meet a host of conditions and are either attending college or entering the military. Currently, he's bending to the nativist right.

Which is ludicrous. The guy just won reelection and won't have to face the voters for another six years. By that time, the 74-year-old may have croaked on the Senate floor. And in any case, six years from now, McCain's vote on this matter won't be an issue.

For far-right junior Senator Jon Kyl, I suppose a vote for the DREAM Act could hurt him in a Republican primary in 2012. But McCain doesn't have this excuse. His unwillingness to do the right thing by these young men and women is pure cowardice.

The latest version of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is the most restrictive yet. To qualify, DREAM beneficiaries must have been in the country for five years preceding the law's enactment, and have to have been younger than 16 when brought into the U.S. Anyone older than 29 after the bill becomes law will not be eligible.

DREAMers will have to submit to background checks and health screenings, give their biometrics to the Department of Homeland Security and register for Selective Service. Their conditional status lasts for ten years, and there's three years on top of that as a legal permanent resident before they can apply for naturalization.

Anyone convicted of a one-year felony or three misdemeanors cannot apply.

And on and on. Next thing you know, they'll have to run the Boston marathon as well.

Still, the Republicrazies are threatening to filibuster it. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is looking for the magic 60-vote silver bullet to invoke the cloture rule and end debate.

If he can't get those 60, I think he should let the Republitards filibuster it. Night after night, Americans will be able to see the GOP solidify itself as the party of xenophobia, nativism and prejudice.

That ugliness will backfire as DREAM students in cap and gown flood the U.S. capitol. Can you imagine? Call the Republicans' bluff and let them make idiots of themselves.

It shouldn't be a partisan issue at all, though the Republicans have made it such. Now is the time to put a torch to the backsides of these wrong-headed politicos.

The way to do that is by jamming Congress' phone lines. All the numbers you need are on the Web site for DREAM Act Arizona, which you can access, here. Thing is, you know that the nativists have the same exact plan and have their phones locked on speed-dial.

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