Arizona Republic
June 9, 2007

(Phoenix, AZ)

Author: DAVID HOWELL, Special for The Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

I've learned over the years that some topics generate more of a response than others. Immigration is definitely one of those. And the several dozen missives I received in the wake of my most recent column in support of comprehensive immigration reform leaves me hopeful.

When I first wrote on this topic several years ago, the majority of the e-mails were of the "send them all home and build a wall" variety. Those folks are still there, and they still write. But this time, they were more than offset by individuals supporting the position I took.

The sample of my e-mail response is supported by the most recent nationwide polls I've seen. A sizable majority of Americans recognize that we need a workable guest worker program.

I know part of that majority opinion is simply a matter of being realistic, and another part is economic common sense. Rounding up and deporting 10-plus million individuals is simply undoable and would wreak havoc on many U.S.

But I'd also like to believe there is an element of that sentiment that recognizes that doing so would also be unfair and unjust ... Dare I say ..."un-American."

I'll use one subset of our undocumented residents to make my point.

They came here as children; many of them are now young adults. They came because their parents brought them. They are undocumented, but they have never known another home.

And, contrary to what some would have us believe, they are largely assimilated. The majority have worked hard in school and stayed out of trouble.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, hardly a liberal, and several others in Congress (including our own U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor) recognized the plight of these young people several years ago and introduced legislation designed to address it.

It's called the "Dream Act." When it passes, it will reward these deserving young Americans with a path to a college education and U.S. citizenship.

The irony is that not only does justice demand that we open this door to these young people, we need them. In today's world being bilingual is a valuable asset.

We'd be fools not to invite them in.

David Howell lives in Phoenix. He can be reached at dandjhowell@aol.com.