Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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2012 Hill and Government Days

In Academic,Legislation,NLLSA,Politics,Race,U.S. Government on January 27, 2012 by NLLSA Chair

Please join the National Latina/o Law Student Association and the National Black Law Student Association for the 2012 Hill and Government Days to take place on February 8 and 9, 2012!

Please register at the following link: http://www.nblsa.org/hillandgovdaysregistration

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Please Join the University of Pennsylvania LALSA for their 2012 Conference

In Academic,Conference,Education,Elections,Law schools,NLLSA,Politics,Race on January 22, 2012 by NLLSA Chair Tagged:

Please find registration information at the following link:  http://www.pennlalsa.org/index.php/conference

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“We are Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic!”

In DREAM Act,Education,Immigration,NLLSA,Politics,Race on May 10, 2011 by NLLSA Chair

This photo started circulating on Facebook among friends and supporters of the Indiana DREAMers hours after the demonstration


This is the motto that DREAMers in Indiana professed at a public town hall meeting on May 9, 2011.  Who are these DREAMers and why did they meet at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, IN? DREAMers are community supporters and students who, because of their immigration status, may be deprived of an education due to the passage of two bills in the state of Indiana.  The members of the Latino/a Youth CollectiveDREAM IU, and The DREAM is Coming gathered at the Indiana Statehouse on May 9 to openly speak about their immigration status and to urge Governor Mitch Daniels to veto the two discriminatory bills that have recently passed in the Indiana House and Senate.

The two bills at issue are Indiana  SB 590 and HB 1402.  SB 590 is an Arizona SB 1070 style bill which would allow the State to enforce immigration laws, a duty commonly reserved for the Federal Government.  It also includes measures, among other things, to require the state to stop offering government forms printed in languages other than English; it would calculate the cost of illegal immigration in Indiana including public benefits to seek reimbursement from the Federal Government; and would establish different bond requirements for undocumented defendants. [1]  HB 1402 contains language that would prevent undocumented students from receiving in state tuition at Indiana colleges and Universities. [2]

At the May 9 town hall meeting, DREAMers spoke about the impact that the passage of these two bills would have on their lives.   Student Rudy Hermosillo took the podium wearing his sunglasses.  His first statement was, “Is it sunny in here?…Because I want to have a bright future.”  He then went on to explain how he was brought to the United States when he was three months old and has lived in the U.S. ever since.  He then urged us to remember that the thing that makes the U.S. unique is that it was a country made up and built by immigrants.

Indiana University Bloomington student Omar Gama, an undocumented DREAMer spoke about his experience crossing the border at age eleven.  In a biography he elaborates on his experience:

I still remember those dark and cold moments when I walked for 3 nights and 2 days just to cross the border. Looking back as my mom was being left behind because she could not walk any longer, having complete strangers carry me because I was too tired to walk, stepping on cacti because it was too dark to see where I was going, to sleeping in a house with 20+ people waiting to be shipped to our destinations. [3]

After his account he added that he would never wish this experience on anyone.  Omar concluded his presentation by reminding us of a past declaration that Governor Daniels made in regards to education.  According to Omar, Governor Daniels stated that he was going to fight for reform that would help students achieve citizenship.   Omar and the DREAMers want to take him up on this offer and are asking Daniels to veto SB 590 and HB 1402.

Many of the presenters at the town hall meeting were undocumented student DREAMers who explained how these measures would affect their lives, but one student, a U.S. citizen, also spoke and explained how these two bills would affect citizen children if they were signed into law.  An eleven-year-old student took the podium and explained that her family consisted of members with mixed statuses.  Before she could go on, she burst into tears and members of the audience had to console her.  She regained her composure and explained that if SB 590 were enacted into law, her family would be forced to either separate or move away from Indiana.  With a sob she explained that she could not bear to think about being separated from her family especially her older brother.

The presentations by the DREAMers were heartfelt and emotional, but they did not just gather to share their stories, they came with a mission and were not going to leave the Statehouse without meeting with Governor Daniels.  In a press release issued by The DREAM is Coming, the DREAMers explained that on several occasions, they tried to contact Governor Daniels to schedule a meeting with him to talk about SB 590 and HB 1402.  Despite his constant refusal, the demonstrators were determined to meet with him before the day was over.

”]”]
DREAMers outside of Governor Mitch Daniel's Office

DREAMers demonstrating at the Indiana Statehouse, Courtesy of Cristal Cabrera

After the presentation five of the DREAMers, known as the Indiana 5, dressed in their high school graduation caps and gowns and went into Governor Daniels’ office to request a meeting with him.  When his spokeswoman refused to let them in, the Indiana 5 sat in the reception area of the Governor’s office where security urged them to leave.  In the atrium outside of Governor Daniels’ office, the rest of the meeting attendees began a demonstration with banners stating “Be Our Man Mitch Veto SB 590 TODAY” (a play on Governor Daniel’s campaign slogan “My Man Mitch”), “Allow us to reach our full citizenship Veto HB 1402,” “We Forgive but we don’t Forget MITCH A Successful Presidency Depends on the Latino Vote” (it is speculated that Governor Daniels will run as a Republican candidate in 2012).  Demonstrators were holding these banners as well as the Quilt of Dreams, a quilt that the Latino Youth Collective has been building over the last few years to raise awareness about the DREAM Act.

Police Officers intervene, picture courtesy of Cristal Cabrera

      Police officers almost immediately responded to the demonstration and tried to remove demonstrators from the door to Governor Daniels’ office.  When an officer tried to grab the Quilt of Dreams from demonstrator Idamarie Collazo, she refused to let him take it and then other officers intervened and arrested Ms. Collazco.  The rest of the demonstrators roared with anger and started to shout, “Up with hope, down with hate, Hoosiers don’t discriminate!”  Chanting continued as more and more officers arrived on scene.  The chants of the demonstrators ranged from “Education not Deportation” to “Stop 1402 we want to go to school.”

The demonstration ended when the Indiana 5 were arrested for not leaving the reception area of Governor Daniel’s office.  They were taken to the Marion County Processing Center where the remaining demonstrators held a vigil for the Indiana 5.  The DREAM is Coming is currently taking donations through their website to bail out the Indiana 5 under the Hoosier Dreamers Fund. DREAMers are now focusing on getting the Indiana 5 out of jail and urging the public to contact Governor Daniels about vetoing both SB 590 and HB 1402.

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Cristal Cabrera is a second-year student at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and serves as NLLSA’s Central Regional Director.

References:

[1] Indiana SB 590

[2] Indiana HB 1402

[3] Omar, The DREAM is Coming.com

[4] “Dreams over Hate – May 9, 2011,” Latino Youth Collective, Facebook.com

Articles

Mexico: The Other Side of the Story

In Foreign Policy,Immigration,Latin America,Legislation,Mexico,Politics,U.S. Government on April 18, 2011 by ppuentec

Students and activists gather during a drug protest against Mexico’s drug violence in Mexico City on February 17. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

Every day we hear, read, and watch that hundreds of people are dying in Mexico due to the war on drugs. We also hear of complaints regarding the current Mexican administration and its law enforcement. What we don’t hear about in the news is what is causing the chaos and madness that is going on in America’s backyard.

Mexico has been the target of negative publicity, which continues every day whether it is regarding the war on drugs or the United States complaining about the immigration problem. What many people do not understand is that there are two sides to every story.

I. Immigration

Prior to 9/11 there were discussion of liberalizing the United States’ immigration policy under the Bush administration, but all discussions ended with 9/11. Once 9/11 happened, the focus of the war on terrorism was directed toward securing the borders, specifically the Mexican border. The focus was to keep terrorists from entering the United States through Canada and Mexico. Little effort has been devoted to the security of the Canadian border, however, despite the fact that just a few years ago at least one terrorist sought to enter the United States from the north.

One of the most disastrous projects was the border fence, which failed and has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. During this time, all the energy and negative publicity was focused on the U.S./Mexico border. Stricter enforcement policies and a dramatic increase in deportations and immigration raids have occurred.

Increased border enforcement on the southern border with Mexico obviously has had, and will continue to have, a disproportionate impact on Mexican citizens. Among other effects, enhanced border enforcement tends to exacerbate the problem of human trafficking of migrants – an industry that has grown substantially over the last decade – from Mexico.

There are false contentions that undocumented immigrants are a burden on American society, but it is the American corporations who exploit undocumented workers and who hire them. Law review articles have discussed that the United States does benefit from undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants purchase items, pay property taxes, have insurance, etc. Their contribution to our economy isn’t a large-scale number, but it is still in the millions.

We all agree that there needs to be some type of immigration reform, but not with the measures that Arizona has taken. Arizona’s stance with immigration is conflicted. The whole point of securing our borders was to prevent terrorists from coming in. As my Immigration Professor at Valparaiso said, Mexicans do not fall from the sky or appear mysteriously at the point of entry. When dealing with immigration it is important to note the intent and the history behind such measures. Arizona has failed to do this and our alienating our neighbors that we benefit from. The United States, specifically the border area, depends on the Mexican trade.

II. Mexico’s War on Drugs

In 2006, President Calderon declared a war on drugs. Since then there have been mass graves, dismembered corpses, and entire towns besieged. Rival gangs have escalated their turf battles over smuggling routes and thousands of lives have been lost. The drug criminals have expanded their shadow by intimidating police forces, using kidnapping and extortion, and trafficking migrants.

A Man digs the grave for a funeral of a Mexican policeman murdered in Juarez by members of a drug cartel (Nadav Neuhaus)

I read an article from the Huffington Post by former NLLSA Chair David Perez titled “Mexico’s Last Stand”, which talked about how Mexico’s time is running out because they are at the end of President Calderon’s term. What was interesting was that the article stated that Mexico cannot back out on the war on drugs. It is now or never. What the article failed to state was what the United States is doing to combat the demand of drugs and the supply of arms to Mexico.

People walk past symbolic chalk outlines during an April 6 march in Cuernavaca called out by poet Javier Sicillia after the death of his son, whose body was found along with six other dead inside a car a week ago in Cuernavaca. Nationwide protests against Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s war on drug cartels that has claimed more than 37,000 lives since late 2006 were planned all over Mexico and in cities as far as Bueno Aires, Paris, New York, and Barcelona. (Margarito Perez/Reuters)

What has been the cause of all this? Drugs. The United States demands them and Mexico supplies them. The same goes with weapons. Mexico receives its weapons from the United States. As long as the demand is there the supply will continue to meet this demand and lives will be lost. Back in March of 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington must do more to stop limit the movement of weapons into Mexico and to address the drug demand. Little has been done, however. Drugs continue to be smuggled in and the problem worsens.

Where is the United Nations and why aren’t they addressing the flagrant human rights violations due to the mass killings and political assassinations in Mexico? Where is the transitional justice? Countries with similar human rights violations such as South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone have received assistance from the United Nations. There are several different initiatives that countries have adopted as approaches to transitional justice: criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, amnesty, monetary compensation, symbolic compensation, and institutional reform. The mass murders and the political assassinations are violations of international law and the United Nations should have stepped in by now. On October 18, 2010, 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia became the police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, Mexico. She later fled to the United States to seek asylum because she feared for her life and the life of her child. Innocent people are dying in Mexico every day because of the war on drugs. The result: people are fleeing to the United States.

The United States government is ignoring what is going on in Mexico and should be focusing its efforts on the people who are demanding the drugs and supplying the weapons. Instead it is focusing on undocumented immigrants. As long as Mexico is continuing to destabilize, there will be more immigrants trying to enter the United States. The United States’ efforts should be toward helping Mexico combat the war on drugs and taking responsibility for the drug demand. “Ignoring the sending country as an explanatory variable yields a sad sort of policy solipsism.” Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).

Sources:

Kevin R. Johnson and Bernard Trujillo, 9/11 Five Years On: A Look At the Global Response to Terrorism: Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1369 (2007).

Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).

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Priscilla Puente-Chacon is a second-year law student at Valparaiso University School of Law and serves as NLLSA’s Public Relations Director.

Articles

Sports, Race, and the Law: A Reflection on Their Politics and Their Power

In Labor,NLLSA,Politics,Race,Sports on April 10, 2011 by NLLSA Chair, 2010-2011

By NLLSA’s North Atlantic Regional Director, who studies human rights law because professional sports did not work out for him.

United States Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico.  Also pictured is Australian Olympian Peter Norman who has an intriguing and little known role in support of the Black Power salute. Image source: http://i.infoplease.com/images/blackpower.jpg.

The New York Yankees have an organizational payroll that dwarves that of the Kansas City Royals…and the city of Kansas City.

Lord Stanley’s Cup was not awarded in 2004 for the first time since 1919 after the first “lockout” of an entire season for any professional sport in North America, which includes six Canadian cities.

The Rooney family may still sell their Pittsburgh Steelers franchise if a suitable bidder is found. The management of the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick despite public protests after his conviction and incarceration for involvement in dog fighting – and #7 jerseys have never sold better.

Cleveland was witness to their sports apocalypse with last summer’s airing of “The Decision”. “The Answer” is in question last seen playing in Turkey. Carmelo is finally a Knick, and CP3 may be joining him and Amar’e next season…if there is a season.

Sports are a business. Players work for owners. Fans cheer for laundry.

Of course, sports are also an integral part of society, a reflection of a collective value of competition and excellence. Of course, players compete for the quest of a championship, for the love of the game. Of course, fans root for their favorite teams, cherish their hometown heroes.

But, in the end, neither society’s values, players’ drive, nor fans’ loyalty compute in the marginal costs of managing a sports league – especially those of the magnitude seen in the United States.

The professional soccer leagues in Europe, and their multi-billion dollar teams, occupy comparable strata of financial clout. Yet, only in the United States have four professional sports leagues – Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) – taken such a hold of markets in cities as financially disparate as Tampa Bay and Toronto with teams as financially disparate as those playing in Nashville and New York.

“I’m a Negro who speak up”, explained Carlton Chester Gilchrist [1]. Known as “Cookie”, Gilchrist was a 260-pound, six-foot three-inch record-setting fullback during the glory days of the American Football League (AFL). A lesser-known fact is that Gilchrist was also a labor organizer during the darkest days of the Civil Rights Movement. Gilchrist led the boycott of the 1965 AFL Championship Game that was to be hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gilchrist organized dozens of top players, of color as well as white, to force the AFL to move the game from the city, which operated under unwritten Jim Crow policies.

Gilchrist’s initiative prompted other athletes to utilize the expanding celebrity of professional sports figures toward political ends. The silent protests by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City were not spontaneous. They had been coordinated by other “athletes in revolt” as termed by former athlete and current professor Harry Edwards – the man who introduced the author of this post to the field of Sociology once upon a time.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali was stinging like a bee, becoming the flamboyant icon for such revolting sports figures and the pariah of the fearsome black athlete. His struggle against the United States government and popular media is well documented. Only recently has his courage and leadership been recognized by those who stripped him of this medal and robbed him of four years of his prime. Was it an evolution of heart by those who previously sought to banish him or the realization that “The Greatest” was no longer a threat, physically nor popularly. Ali, in the past fifteen years, had taken on a role as corporate spokesperson for companies seeking to get out from under racial discrimination litigation, namely The Coca-Cola Company. Nonetheless, his vibrant and unapologetic militancy, on matters of race, religion, and class, solidified athletes of color as figures who could be cheered on the court and feared in the street. After changing his name from Cassius Clay, Ali would taunt his foes, both inside and outside the ring, with his rope-a-dope line: “What’s my name, fool!”

Today, sports, race, and the law continue to intersect in ways more visible than decades prior. Last year, the Phoenix Suns, the NBA franchise in Arizona, offered a rare gesture of political solidarity by wearing jerseys that read “Los Suns”, Spanish for plural Suns, for their game against the San Antonio Spurs soon after Arizona’s state legislature had passed a bill that deputized local law enforcement as immigration officials and promoted racial profiling. Some saw the Suns’ move less as a political stand and more as economic opportunism to gain the favor of a booming Latino population in the metropolitan area. Nonetheless, the organization’s voice was an unexpected one in the polarizing debate where members of the Suns team and management made public comment against the legislation known as SB1070, including starting point-guard and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Steve Nash*.

In response to SB1070, immigrant rights advocates have also lobbied the MLB to relocate this summer’s All-Star Game from Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, to a city that will not sanction the reasonable suspicion stoked by local Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. MLB’s soon-to-be highest paid player and current Saint Louis Cardinals first baseman, Albert Pujols, has joined a series of other Latino and Latin American players and managers, such as the always outspoken coach of the Chicago White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, in repudiating the Arizona law and its copycat initiatives.

History repeats itself in Arizona where in 1990 the NFL rescinded its awarding of Super Bowl XXVII to Tempe, Arizona and relocated the nation’s most-watched televised event to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. This controversial decision was made as a consequence of the state’s unwillingness to observe the new federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This type of outspoken support by professional sports industry was not as evident in 2006 when millions marched throughout the country after the introduction of HR4437 by Representative Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin. Today, however, Wisconsin has taken center court in the fight of organized labor to retain their right to collectively bargain – a measure which impacts documented citizens as well as those currently undocumented seeking naturalization. In this fight, Wisconsin’s fabled NFL team and current Super Bowl champion, the Green Bay Packers, has voiced their support for state public employees. In recent weeks, Packer players, including former Heisman Trophy-winner and Defensive Player of Year, Charles Woodson, have spoken out against Wisconsin Governor Walker and for the rights of workers. The Packers, unlike the other 31 NFL teams, is the NFL’s only cooperative-owned franchise.

Fitting, if not strategic, that NFL players would take such a stand. Players, through their now dissolved union, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), are currently in the midst of a lockout after negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement with their employer, the NFL, failed.

The NFL, the nation’s highest grossing professional sports league of the nation’s most popular sport, is coming off an unprecedented season of revenue in terms of attendance and television ratings. After a steady climb in popularity, the NFL has overtaken Major League Baseball as a league financial model and football has overtaken baseball as “America’s Pastime”. The current dealings and stalemates between owners, as management, and players, as workers, have been closely followed in popular press. Players are seeking the preservation of free agency and transparency in profit sharing while owners are seeking reduction of health care coverage and an expanded eighteen game season. The result of these negotiations impacts the looming negotiations of the NBA owners and its union of players, the National Basketball Player’s Association.

Athletics intersect with the law and labor relations with the inevitable companions of race and class. This is true in college athletics where efforts at organizing student athletes have been met with sequestering of athletes and threats of litigation by the National College Athletics Association (NCAA). While the racial integration of sports, amateur and professional, is celebrated by today’s generation of fan, athlete, and owner – with the exception of Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers – much integration remains to be seen in professional sports ownership where only one of the roughly 120 professional franchises is owned by a person of color – Michael Jordan of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

The fundamental issue, as always, is power – to employ staff, to televise games, to build stadiums, to relocate franchises, and to buy and sell athletes. It is a power that athletes, despite their multi-million dollar contracts and endorsement deal, cannot exert, rendering them “forty million dollar slaves” [2]. It is a power that fans, despite our multi-million dollar investment and support, cannot exert, rendering us the followers of those same forty million dollar slaves. This is true of all athletes and all fans – white, citizen, or otherwise – for sports is a business.

* Nash is Canadian and an immigrant himself – of the “brain gain” variety, of course.

[1] Zirin, Dave, A People’s History of Sports in the United States, New Press (2009).

[2] Jackson, Scoop, “NBA Power Shift? Don’t Blame Players”, ESPN.com (March 1, 2011).

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Camilo A. Romero is a second-year student at NYU School of Law and serves as NLLSA’s North Atlantic Regional Director.

Articles

Maryland State Senate to Vote on Critical Immigrant Issue

In Academic,DREAM Act,Immigration,Legislation,Politics on March 7, 2011 by NLLSA Policy Initiative Director

The Maryland State Senate is preparing to vote on March 8th on whether or not to give undocumented students who reside in Maryland the right to pay the in-state tuition rate that documented students pay to attend the state’s public institutions of higher learning.  The measure has passed through the Senate Committee on Education and has gained considerable momentum.

The bill was introduced by freshman Senator Victor Ramirez and it would open the door to higher education for many Maryland students.  One of the bill’s key amendments would require undocumented students to attend a community college and transfer into a university prior to receiving the in-state tuition rate.  Nevertheless, this state bill will be happily embraced by the undocumented student community who were discouraged by the defeat of the national “DREAM Act” legislation that failed to pass through the United States Senate after passing through the United States House of Representatives.

The full story can be found here.  Hopefully the Maryland State Senate can pass the legislation and provide relief to thousands of students.  The success of this measure can have a significant effect on the prospect of national legislation affecting the education of undocumented students.

10 States (Washington, California, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, and New York) already provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented students.  Maryland would become the 11th if this bill were to pass.

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Illegal Immigration and the U.S. Military: The Challenge of Reconciliation

In DREAM Act,Immigration,Legislation,Politics,U.S. Government on February 19, 2011 by NLLSA Treasurer

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported the story of decorated soldier Luis Lopez, who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to his commander, Mr. Lopez was “a critical part of the success of his unit fighting the global war on terrorism” and has over a dozen awards to prove it. 

Up until last week, the 28-year-old staff sergeant was also an undocumented immigrant.  Mr. Lopez was discharged from the Army in late December after he informed military officials that he applied for U.S. citizenship.  His illegal status—Mr. Lopez arrived from Mexico at the age of 8—prevented him from seeking employment while waiting for immigration officials to review his case.

Amid the national immigration debate, one section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act is often overlooked.  The statute provides that foreign nationals who have “served honorably” during wartime may secure citizenship “whether or not [they have been] lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.”

As the article points out, this highlights the federal government’s “seemingly inconsistent” stance on immigration and the military.  Undocumented immigrants cannot legally enlist in the armed forces, but if they find a way to do so, they are given an opportunity to seek naturalization.

The statute has garnered attention recently during Congressional consideration of the DREAM Act.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (R–AL), an opponent of the legislation, has argued that the DREAM Act is not needed because “there is already a legal process in place for illegal aliens to obtain U.S. citizenship through military service.”  He notes that under 10 U.S.C. § 504, the Secretary of Defense can provide undocumented aliens the authority to enlist.  

The position advanced by Senator Sessions requires that undocumented aliens come forward and seek military enlistment by first getting approval from proper government authorities.  However, obtaining such approval is only possible under the statute if it is determined that the enlistment is “vital to the national interest.”  Short of meeting this arbitrary threshold, such military candidates must essentially falsify official documents, such as birth certificates, thereby breaking the law.  This falls short of providing the solution offered by the DREAM Act, which is a truly legal means of enlisting and securing citizenship. 

Mr. Lopez was granted citizenship after the WSJ began asking immigration authorities questions about his case.  He participated in a naturalization service last week, thereby finalizing the citizenship process.  Unfortunately, Mr. Lopez represents the exception.  Congress must now tackle the issue by giving undocumented men and women who want to serve in the U.S. military an opportunity to do so.

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Larry Banda is a third-year student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Treasurer of the National Latina/o Law Student Association.