It just takes one look at the two groups squaring off, shouting at each other across Elm Street this month, to see how a flood of children at our borders has become a Rorschach test of the passions that divide us over immigration. To one side, they are a human challenge to the conscience of our traditionally welcoming country. To the other, they are a threat to law, security and our economy. Send them back to danger and possible death? Let them stay and risk priming an unstoppable flow? It’s yet another heartbreaking example of how divided this country is on this critical issue.
Yet, take one look at Oscar Diaz and you will see a place where we all can agree, even on this contentious issue. Diaz is a straight-A student. He graduated in the top 10 of his high school class. He even earned an associate degree in computer science from a community college by taking classes while he was still in high school. Now he wants to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. He wants to become a computer programmer and then help other people, including his siblings, get their educations, too.
But without help, it’s going to be hard. Maybe impossible.
Diaz represents another kind of immigration crisis building right around us. If we have the will, we can turn this crisis into a windfall for us all. Diaz was born in Mexico and has been living and going to school in this country since he was 8 years old. Now 19 and living in El Paso, Diaz is part of the group of young people who call themselves Dreamers.