David M. Keepnews, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN is an Associate Professor in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing. Dr. Keepnews, an expert on health care systems and health policy, currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, a quarterly journal.
Immigration policy remains a hot-button issue in the United States, with no apparent progress toward resolution, particularly on the status of undocumented immigrants. However, despite broadly divergent views on immigration policy, one might hope that a degree of national consensus could be achieved on the status of some undocumented immigrants. Common sense and a spirit of fairness should drive agreement that people who came to the U.S. as children—who generally had no say in their parents’ decisions on whether and how to come here—and who have led productive lives here should be entitled to a straightforward path to resolve their own legal status and achieve U.S. citizenship.
Unfortunately, common sense and fairness have not ruled the day on this issue so far. On December 18, the Senate failed to end a filibuster of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act would have provided conditional status and a path to citizenship to young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, who have been here for at least 5 years, and who completed at least two years of college or military service.
A couple of weeks ago the NIH launched a new public symposium series called OPPNET that will bring together NIH-funded researchers from a wide variety of disciplines to explore a new and long-overdue holistic perspective on basic scientific research. It was highly appropriate that the first seminar would examine the subject of the mother-infant bond, because we now know what happens to mother affects her baby in ways that not only decide its fate, but can leave a genetic imprint that can last for generations to come. This nature-nurture effect is called “epi-gentics” and it is a game-changer for science and public health policy too.