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Dreamers know it's better to give than to receive

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

-- Dreamers want a voice so they can influence politics and shape the public dialogue in order to make the United States more welcoming to immigrants, both legal and illegal.

-- They want to be singled out so they can continue to feel special about themselves and what they've already accomplished or may still achieve somewhere down the road.

-- But, at the same time, they also want not to be singled out from their families -- especially their parents, who have worked long hours at hard jobs to give them these opportunities.

-- So Dreamers want a bonus, namely additional legal status for their parents, so that the elders can likewise live out the rest of their days without fear of deportation.

That's a reasonable ask. And it's better than the alternative, namely legal status for Dreamers but nothing for the rest of the family, who presumably had dreams of their own before they had to go to work to fund the aspirations of others. Besides, accommodating only those who go to college is an ugly form of elitism that plays into the simplistic narrative -- advanced by Democrats and Republicans alike -- of good immigrants and bad immigrants.

But, it's been my experience in dealing with Dreamers over the last decade that what they want most of all is to be part of the program. They want to vote, sit on juries, and join the Rotary Club. They want to participate in all facets of civic life. They want to work hard, pay taxes and give something back to the country that gave their families a second chance at life. They want to show everyone that they need not be feared, and that they're an asset not a liability. Simply put, they want to be Americans-in-full. For that, we should be grateful.

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At a time when our collective work ethic has diminished and a sense of entitlement is the new normal, Americans have it wrong. Instead of wondering what to do with the Dreamers, they should be figuring out how to make their own kids more like them.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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