SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 23, 2012

Benton: Amnesty no longer a dirty word

Almost four centuries after the Pilgrims enjoyed the first Thanksgiving feast in the Bay State, the year 2012 may be accorded similar milestone status for the Hispanic community.

This is the year those who came to the United States not from England, but from Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean and south of the border asserted themselves in the presidential election. The result — a convincing win for President Barack Obama and reduced influence for Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives — was in no small measure due to Democrats’ ability to attract the Latino vote, which accounted for about 10 percent of the total cast.

Within hours, influential Republicans were joining Democrats in calling for comprehensive immigration reform. And “amnesty” was no longer a dirty word.

In a pre-holiday message to staff and faculty, North Shore Community College President Wayne Burton hailed a recent directive from Gov. Deval Patrick that Bay State students eligible for work permits under the Obama administration’s implementation of the DREAM Act be charged in-state tuition rates.

“To me, as world residents, we have a moral obligation to assist displaced persons reach their fullest potential no matter where they were born or whom they were born to. I thank Gov. Patrick for his courage in taking this step,” Burton noted.

Unfortunately, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, on the short list for “turkey of the year” among the nation’s politicians, is still doing everything she can to thwart Obama’s initiative. This week, according to the Arizona Republic, despite the state’s long history of granting driver’s licenses to undocumented workers in general, the governor issued an executive order specifically prohibiting similar treatment for those young people who have applied for deferred action on their status under the DREAM Act.

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The Beverly City Council strengthened its reputation as the most progressive and enlightened such body on the North Shore this week, voting 8-0 to make properties along the Rantoul Street corridor eligible for tax breaks under the state’s Urban Center Tax Increment Financing program.

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