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Dreams Come to Washington

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The Dreams Train left Chicago on Father's Day for its final stop in Washington, DC. Thirteen more "Dreamers" joined the trip in Chicago, where we pulled in Saturday at about 5:30PM. The group of about 60 on this LA to DC train has become very mutually supportive and engaged. They've shared stories and experiences. That interweaving of backgrounds, hopes and dreams is the stuff of this trip and the essence of America.

Friday, we put out the video of Tony, a Polish immigrant in Chicago whose wife was deported last week. We met Tony in Chicago. He is on the Dreams train now headed to DC in an hour, ready to tell his story to all who will listen, ready to hold back his pain at being separated from his wife and son so that he can be the face of a broken immigration system.

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This morning, our Dreamer of the Day is Tonio, an Iraqi who was brought to the US under US government auspices in 2000 to avoid further brutality and potentially worse by the Saddam Hussein government. Although he passed his test for citizenship two years ago, he has still not been granted his formal documents. His wife, in the meantime, languishes under physical threat in Baghdad. Have a look at Tonio's video and see his reaction to Tony's video.

Most of those who have commented on my previous posts are anonymous and regardless of the point, most have seemingly cut and pasted the refrain, "what about illegal don't you understand." Tonio is neither anonymous nor illegal, yet his wife sits in Baghdad due to a broken immigration system. Brian, one of our other Dreamers, joined the Marines and fought in Iraq, even though he was here without documentation. Should people without papers be allowed to fight our wars for us? What about illegal does Brian not understand?

The US Constitution has endured for so long because of its flexibility. That flexibility has allowed our nation to become the richest in history. That wealth is built almost completely by immigrants. When necessary, the fundamental law of the land, the Constitution, is amended, as it was in 1868 to abolish slavery. Prior to that, the "what about illegal don't you understand" phrase would have applied to those who opposed slavery. The same can be said for women's suffrage. "What about illegal don't you understand" did not make it acceptable for more than half the population to be disenfranchised.

Now, we have some twelve million people in this country living in the shadows, without documentation. They work. Most pay taxes into a Social Security system for benefits to which they are not entitled. Many, like Brian, fight and die for our country. The law has to change. Family values are the bedrock of our nation. A just nation does not divide families like Tony's and Tonio's. A nation that plans for its future does not prevent small business owners like Cathy from hiring and paying good wages including 401 (k) s employees. The Dreamers are about a nation of nations, about the strength of this country well into the future. Their Dreams told individually are the nation's collective hopes. It's time for the laws to change to recognize reality, just as the laws have changed to recognize reality so many times in our great nation's past.