Dream a Little Dream with Attorney Charles Kuck
Do you ever wonder who is the gregarious, outspoken attorney voicing his opinions at immigration conferences? Charles Kuck, Managing Partner of Kuck Immigration Partners, LLC, is a litigator turned immigration attorney and law professor. He served as the Past-President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Today, he shares with us his opinions on the current status of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which is being debated by Congress but has failed to gain any traction. The Act, in its original proposal, would have allowed undocumented minors who came to the U.S. to apply for legal permanent residence if they satisfied certain conditions.
1. You’ve been practicing immigration law for quite a while now. How did you get so impassioned by the Dream Act?
The Dream Act was a great Republican Idea, which is what spurred my belief and movement towards it. The idea behind it is that children are not responsible for the sins of their fathers. We cannot allow a permanent underclass of children in this country who cannot pursue their dreams. That’s just fundamentally unfair. These are both sound Republican and American principles. It is amazing to me that the Republication Party has retreated from the original intent of this legislation by now calling it amnesty!
We cannot allow our children, the children that we have educated, to wallow in an abyss from which there is no outlet. This is simply un-American.
2. As you call it, this underclass of children, what becomes of them? Are they in a state of “limbo”?
I would hate to affiliate it with a religious concept, but it’s worse than limbo because limbo holds out hope that something better will happen. Short of these children falling in love with an American citizen, and consular processing to be legal, there are no other options for them but to return to a foreign country they don’t know. Do we really want these individuals to getmarried just so they can fix their statuses? It’s an insane public policy position.
3. How would passage of the Dream Act affect the country?
It would depend on which version of the Dream Act was passed. There are so many versions being thrown around. Senator Marco Rubio, for example, wants an Act that allows these children to apply for a student visa, which would require these students then apply for an H-1B or some other visa after they graduate. It’s rhetoric from someone who doesn’t understand immigration laws and certainly not emboldened to act on the behalf of this population.
The Dream Act children who are affected are probably less than one million individuals. If the original Dream Act bill were passed, or something very similar, it wouldn’t fix our national immigration problem, but it would at least address a significant, educated population that currently lives here.
4. Some argue the Dream Act should be included as part of a larger bill on comprehensive immigration reform. How do you respond to that?
If they can, politicians will cherry pick the easy stuff. It’s easy to increase employment-based numbers. It’s easy to mandate E-Verify for all employers or to temporarily increase H-1B numbers. You’re not fixing the root cause of our problems: our current immigration laws don’t reflect the 21st century economic or societal needs of America. You can tweak the easy stuff but you’re not fixing the long-term problems.
With regards to immigration enforcement, the Obama Administration has been very successful at the border, interior through secure communities, ICE through auditing thousands employers, more so than any other administration. What about growth in America though? There is no accounting or mechanism to grow entrepreneurs in America, to encourage start-ups to invest here in America, and to allow our best and brightest foreign talent to thrive.
Writing a comprehensive bill is not difficult. I could probably draft one in an afternoon. It’s getting politicians with the courage to support it. Most are concerned with being elected or re-elected during primaries. The vast number of voters during these Republican primary elections tend to be conservative, anti-immigration constituents who often scapegoat immigrations as the source of our country’s social and economic problems. How can 3% of our population be the problem for all American problems? How is that possible?
5. What can practitioners do as a group to effect change in our immigration laws?
As immigration practitioners, we have the power to influence our communities. We are the experts in the law and we should dispel myths out there, when possible. We should get to know our local politicians so they benefit from our expertise. We need to donate to causes that support immigration reform. Because of our position to interact with many different ethnic groups, we should bridge those gaps and reach out to multiple community organizations to create coalitions. We are also the voice for our clients. We need reporters to hear the real stories of immigrant populations and how our laws affect them.
6. You also serve as an Adjunct Professor of Immigration Law at the University of Georgia, School of Law. What advice would you have to would-be attorneys wanting to enter the practice of immigration law?
During the past 13 years as an Adjunct Professor, I’ve witnessed 20-25 students become immigration attorneys- really good ones too! I tell all my students to take on a pro bono case. What they’ll learn about immigration law is that they truly help change people’s lives.
When I took on a pro-bono case, I discovered the joy of saving somebody’s life, doing things for others that they could not do for themselves. Being an immigration lawyer carries with it a unique ability to influence individual lives for the good.
Thanks so much Mr. Kuck for sharing some of your insights with our readers today. We hope our readers can help to effect change in immigration by getting invovled with our communities across the nation. You can follow Mr. Kuck on Twitter @ckuck. Sign up for our newletter to stay informed and updated on immigration issues.