Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dream Act-Another Era

My father first came to the U.S. in 1920 as a ten year old. He was a Canadian, but his parents were refugees from Czarist Russia. His mother could not stand the constant sniping by her sister in law, and took the kids back to Canada in 1922. My grandfather remained and constantly pleaded with her to return. In 1925 she had had enough of the poverty in Canada and caring for seven children. She sought to return, but was prevented by the new Immigration Law that severely limited persons who were born in Russia.

My father graduated from high school in Estevan. He was a very high achiever. He sought to further his education in Pittsburgh, and was given a student visa. Shortly after he arrived in 1929, the Great Depression started. He could not afford the University of Pittsburgh and sought work. He could have stayed, probably undetected, but he could not go further than the menial jobs he could take as an illegal alien. He admitted his indiscretion of fasely using his status as a student and was asked to leave the country.

A year later he was given entry and returned as a legal immigrant. Obtaining jobs, getting fired, about seven times, he finally landed one as a clerk in a department store. During this time he applied for and received permanent residence and eventually in 1935, full citizenship.

His ambition never failed and he became a radio announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Hornets (the AHL hockey team that yielded its franchise to the Penguins).

My reason for writing this blog is to illustrate that our immigration policy can and does stifle the new blood that the U.S. needs to progress and maintain its status as a world leader. My father was fortunate, and by proxy, so was I. (To learn more about my father, Joe Tucker, check out Screamer: the Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

The Senate had a majority in favor of considering the Dream Act that would have given foreign born individuals, those who served in the military and those looking for higher education, the opportunity my father had, and he had it in the deepest part of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, Senators, mainly from the South, the Southern colony of Arizona, the Mormon states of Utah and Idaho, and Montana (afraid of an influx of Canadians??) stood in the way of their dream.

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