May 22, 2012
My son, Preston Watson, graduated from UT-Austin this past weekend. But it may as well have been the rest of us up there with him.
It felt like the whole family was part of it, sharing in Preston’s success.
But there was exactly one hiccup. Preston got his Bachelor’s in history, and there was a special ceremony where he and his history classmates walked across the stage.
Well, as you probably noticed, Preston’s last name is Watson. So is mine. And in the several years I’ve had this last name, I’ve come to expect that whenever there’s a large group listed, gathered or lined up – whether it’s 31 state senators or a bunch of graduates – “Watson” tends to come at the end of the line.
I was waiting for the first three rows to fill up and then I’d start looking for my boy and take his picture as he entered. Imagine my surprise when, relatively early (make that quite early) in the ceremony, I heard Liz say, “There’s Preston.” I looked up and saw his back as he was well past me.What happened to the alphabet at UT?
Anyway, we all scrambled to whip out our cameras. My iPhone shot was … not my best work.
This one’s much better:
Congratulations to Preston McDaniel Watson and the University of Texas at Austin Class of 2012. We’re proud of you all – and your university.
Besides, those of you who live in Austin had just finished voting in the City Council elections (in fact, given what I trust is the fine civic engagement of Watson Wire readers and the truly tragically low turnout in the local elections, we all may have constituted a majority). It seemed odd to start talking about early voting three days after another election day.
So I’ve got just one week to cajole you into heading to the polls. It’s easy. It’s painless. It’s the right thing to do.
(Besides, if you don’t vote early this week, you’ll have to run to your local polling place on the day of the primary, which will also be the day after Memorial Day. How screwed up is that? Thanks, everyone responsible for the redistricting process!)
This, of course, is a reference to what’s known as the DREAM Act.
In Texas, the Dream Act generally refers to the law (already on the books) that allows kids who are brought to the state through no fault of their own, who do well in school and who meet other requirements, to pay in-state tuition at a state university that accepts them.
The federal DREAM Act, unfortunately, is not yet law, but it would serve a similar purpose. It would:
This is a compassionate, common-sense proposal – a limited but important part of the Texas solution we need to address immigration. Sadly (but not surprisingly), it’s having trouble finding traction in the overheated politics surrounding the issue.
You know, it’s a tragedy of modern politics that immigration has become such a divisive issue. Some of America’s greatest historical strengths, after all, have flowed from the country’s ever-changing, inclusive culture.
Diversity shouldn’t be viewed only for the challenges that come with it. It also should be recognized for the boundless opportunities it presents – opportunities that Americans should recognize, from our history, better than anyone else in the world.
Unfortunately, the federal government has pretty much abdicated its responsibility by failing to confront the immigration issue. And that vacuum has been filled by shameful rhetoric that does nothing but divide and weaken us.
Even the DREAM Act, which was really just meant to be a limited, bipartisan solution to a specific issue, has fallen victim to short-sighted, extremist ideology.
What we need is a Texas solution on immigration. That solution, first and foremost, must secure our borders and keep us safe. And it must show zero tolerance for those who commit serious crimes.
But it also must recognize people who have lived as Americans for years – and who will meet stringent requirements to serve our country and contribute productively to our economy.
The DREAM Act should be one part of that solution. So I hope you’ll vote in favor of this referendum on the Democratic ballot this week.