The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors)
Many say the DREAM Act does nothing more than cheapen the American citizenship process and hurt those who have honestly entered the process, filed their paperwork, waited in line, learned English, studied American civics- and ended their arduous task with a U.S. Naturalization ceremony. Achieving the dream of becoming an American citizen is a process, one that means something, but it also means becoming an American.
The United States is one of only a few countries that offer a unique proposition of shedding an old life and truly becoming American with all its stars and stripes. It’s a privilege – not a given.
However, regarding the DREAM Act many Democrats are operating under the premise that it is not fair to punish children for the actions of their parents, therefore, illegal kids deserve a chance to achieve the American dream. Along with the dream they expect reduced tuition rates, something not afforded to all American children. It’s not about the money, it’s the money.
But what happens when children of all persuasions reach adulthood? Do they become bank robbers if that’s the family trade? Or are they held accountable for their actions whatever those actions might be? The greatest gift this country has is the ability to be something or nothing.
Just get into a cab in Washington D.C. and ask the driver about his American dream. “Well, what I love about this country is you can be a loser, party and live in a box if you want. Or you can work your ass off (excuse me) at a couple of jobs, learn the language, go to college and be successful. There aren’t many places in the world you can do that in and I love being an American,” said one cabbie from Ghana.
The cab driver explains in great length the years he waited to enter the country, how hard he worked to learn the language and the fact he may be able to help his family once he becomes successful in his new country. He explains that he came here with nothing and he doesn’t expect “America to give him any money, just a chance.”
It’s true illegal adults and their children continue to live in limbo in the United States. While it may have been a parents’ decision to stay illegally in America, when these kids grow up it becomes their responsibility to gain legal status.
Some immigration experts contend that if children in this “legal limbo” wish to return to their home country and apply for a student visa and legally accept a university’s offer to become a student, these children should take advantage of this legal process.
“As a consequence of lobbying by colleges and universities, there are essentially unlimited numbers of student visas granted. Thus, the scenario of an illegal alien student leaving the U.S. and returning via a student visa is plausible,” says immigration expert Gene Nelson Ph.D. “It is likely that the illegal alien student would then be liable to pay out of state tuition (something all foreign students must do until they establish legal residence). However, I note that the state of California just liberalized the treatment of all illegal alien students by passing their own version of the DREAM Act and offering in-state tuition for illegals. Nevertheless, I think it is likely that the California law will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.”
Groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) point out that these “in limbo” young adults have many options. “They have the opportunity to go home (to their home country) or they can go to college if they pay out of state tuition rates. Also many minority and poor people use the military as a way to get out of the ghettos and spend their time in the military to earn the right to use a GI bill and then pursue college,” says Susan Tully of FAIR.
However a few strings come with the military GI Bill. Once service members enter college, the military monitors their grades and courses. If a student begins to drop or fail classes the military pulls the purse strings and they no longer receive their college benefits. It is unclear if the DREAM Act ensures these same checks and balances, but illegal alien students do not have to finish an education program in order to qualify for legal status.
Logically it makes sense for illegal young adults to start their grown up lives on the right foot and America loves the underdog. Perhaps groups like La Raza and Centers for American Progress could set up college tuition scholarship funds for these young adults who enter the country with a legal student visa and seek to grab their portion of the American dream.
However, once again a bankrupt Washington D.C. is not offering a real solution for young adults trapped in a legal immigration quagmire. Again they want to reward illegal behavior with citizenship and in-state tuition no matter a person’s legal status.
The DREAM Act would provide illegal aliens in-state tuition, even when it is not being offered to U.S. citizens and legally present aliens living just across state lines. Section 3 of the DREAM Act repeals Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1623) prohibits giving education benefits to an unlawfully present individual unless that same benefit is offered to all U.S. citizens. This glimpse into the unfairness of the DREAM Act came from a press release from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
American students would also have to fight with illegal alien children for the limited money and grants available for college tuition. Colleges are raising fees every semester to keep up with the cost of living and many have stalled or reduced the student acceptance rates for financial reasons. Colleges are operating at capacity.
“Section 10 of the DREAM Act allows illegal aliens amnestied under the bill’s provisions to qualify for federal student assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) in the form of federal student loans (Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loans), federal work-study programs, and other federal education services such as tutoring and counseling,” the statement from Sessions said. This would all but ensure that some U.S. students would lose the ability to achieve their dream of college.
Leaders in President Obama’s cabinet like Celica Munoz, director of the Intergovernmental Affairs office have been making the rounds with conference calls, action plans and coordinating White House staff to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act legislation during the lame duck session because they still have the numbers needed to pass any bill.
Munoz’s mantra during the conference calls has been “all hands on deck, call members of Congress and put a human face to the DREAM Act.”
She even replied to a question from a listener on the White House Live session regarding the President’s ability to just unilaterally sign the DREAM Act into law. “Unfortunately the law doesn’t allow the President to override the Congress,” Munoz answered.
Other prominent members of Obama’s team like U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have hammered the point that the DREAM Act is a win, win proposition for America. “For our young people, for our country, for our country’s economy, we desperately need to pass the DREAM Act,” Duncan said during a conference call hosted by Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. “We have a chance to do it now in the lame-duck session. And I simply don’t think we can afford to wait.”
Another main topic used by the left to garner support for the DREAM Act is the military. The arguments that the military is in need of more recruits because America is fighting two wars in the Middle East are weaved into every conference call
Yet, these talking points are simply unfounded.
The military already has rules in place to accept non-citizens into the military. In fact the Armed Forces currently accept thousands of Filipinos, Latin Americans and other nationalities into the armed services. Many of these recruits are given citizenship within six months.
According to a Department of Defense press release regarding “recruitment and retention rates” through October 2011, the military has at least a 100 percent rating in all branches of service with the Army edging out its compatriots with a 103 percent recruitment ratio.
The numbers only get better when it comes to retention rates. The figures varied from 100 percent (the low, Navy) to the high of 130 percent (the Marines). In fact beginning with the 2012 budget the military will begin mandatory implementation of a 10 percent cut across the board, according to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
While it is widely believed that the DREAM Act will fail in the lame duck session, Americans should take the time to learn the pros and cons of such a bill because this legislation has been pulled off the shelf over the last 10 years and will continue to be a hot-button topic until the U.S. illegal immigration problem is solved.
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