Overview: A DREAM deferred; Banned books

<strong>A DREAM deferred<strong>

Undocumented students and allies suffered another setback on the path to pass the DREAM Act Tuesday night when the legislation was blocked in the U.S. Senate, after a Republican-led fillibuster.

The act creates a path to conditional permanent residency for undocumented immigrants under the age of 36 who came to the U.S. before they were 16. To obtain residency, the immigrants must have attended college or served in the military for two years and be of “good moral character.”

The DREAM Act is important to consider in terms of social justice, but beyond that, it’s also a crucial tool to contribute to an educated work force, especially in Texas.

Unfortunately, both U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, voted . The DREAM Act was tacked on as an amendment to a defense spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, along with a provision repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Both senators avoided discussing the DREAM Act when justifying the filibuster; instead they just blasted the Democrats’ legislative tactics.

Hutchinson criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “attaching important and unrelated” issues to the legislation, and Cornyn called these legislative tactics an “insult to millions of Americans.”

Both Hutchinson and Cornyn declare the necessity of comprehensive immigration reform, but their actions blocking the passage of the DREAM Act tell a different story. After all, what could be a more solid first step toward reforming the U.S. immigration system then offering the most educated immigrants a chance to stay in the U.S.?

<strong>Banned books<strong>

In anticipation of National Banned Books Week, which will begin on Sept. 25 and last until Oct. 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has released its 14th annual list of books banned by Texas public schools. In total, 87 titles were challenged by various school districts around Texas last year and 20 were banned. Among the books banned were two Judy Blume novels and a book from the Gossip Girl series.

The greatest number of challenges came from nearby Leander ISD, the same school district that refused to show its students a 15-minute speech that President Barack Obama delivered to schoolchildren nationwide to motivate them to pursue their education. Close behind Leander was Round Rock ISD which, as the report notes, had two cases at a middle school where a parent lobbied to get a book banned, but refused to read the book even in order to discuss the supposedly troublesome aspects of it with school administrators.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of book challenges occurred on the grounds of sex or nudity. Profanity and violence resulted in the second — and third — most challenges respectively.

Beyond the obvious troublesome ramifications that censorship presents, the naivete that one must posses when deciding to ban a book is almost laughable. Quite simply, teenagers don’t seek out fiction stories in order to get their fix of sex and violence — they know the Internet and television are far more efficient means of accomplishing that. Banning a book likely only succeeds in making children want to read them more in order to see what they’re missing. Thankfully, the number of books being challenged or banned in Texas schools has decreased steadily over the past four years. We hope this trend continues, as schools should be a forum where differing ideas are presented, not restricted.