by Jose Alvarez on Monday, April 4, 2011 at 1:34pm
But when he goes home, where no one is listening, he thinks privately
“What if he knew?”
He ponders this question in the confines of his head. Knowing that in an instant he could be dubbed a criminal like so many others. He knows he didn’t do anything. He didn’t commit any crime, but he’s a criminal in the minds of millions of Americans.
“What if they all knew?.” he says again.
“Would they all still talk to me? Would they exile me from their world because of something I can’t control?”
He asks himself these questions daily because, you see, he’s not like you. He’s “different”. In fact, you technically wouldn’t be wrong if you called him an “alien” or "criminal". That’s right. He is undocumented and even though he has the same values, mentality, and leads the life of normal Americans, he’s not. He’ll never be able to get a job. Paying for school will be difficult for him. And simple tasks like driving a car can instantly get him sent to what other call his “homeland”. But, thing is, he doesn’t see that as his homeland. He doesn’t know anybody there. He can barely speak the language.
“I can’t go back,” he tells himself
For him there is all but one hope. A legislation that can turn his and millions of other students lives around. A bill that would grant them the opportunity to join the work-force, put to work natural entrepreneurs that will, as a result, expand job growth. His friends, who are also undocumented, could finally join the military to serve and defend the country they love.
What’s the DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act is a pending bill in Congress that will give undocumented students a path to citizenship. The DREAM Act has in place strict (and getting stricter) guidelines that a student must meet in order to qualify. To benefit from the DREAM Act a student must have to been in the United States for at least 5 years prior to the enactment of the bill, must have arrived in the United States before age 16, must be between the ages of 12-30 and the new DREAM Act included numerous fines that would have to be paid.
So this is Amnesty then?
No. The DREAM Act is not amnesty. The DREAM Act also has a ten year waiting period where a DREAM Act beneficiary will be placed in temporary legal status. During those ten years a student MUST attend college or join the United States Armed forces, must not commit any crimes and must remain in the US. (I guarantee you many Americans couldn’t fulfill those requirements, especially the clean-criminal record provision). Most undocumented students don’t know of their status until the ages of 15-17 when they are preparing for life after high school.
Passing the DREAM Act is an incentive that will only encourage future illegal immigration, and is backdoor amnesty for their parents!
Not exactly. At least not the DREAM Act. The most recent version of the DREAM Act addressed this issue. The updated DREAM Act specifically says that "DREAMer's" will NOT be allowed to sponsor any of their parents or relatives. Furthermore, there is a misconception that everybody who's here will benefit. Not true. The DREAM Act states that a beneficiary has to have been present in the US 5 years prior to the enactment of the bill. Meaning not everybody can apply (plus, there are a plethora of other requirements to meet). Documents such as school records can be used to verify this.
Okay, you forget, there are NO JOBS!
Well… a study done in 2010 of the economic impact of the DREAM Act found that it would it inject approximately 3.6 trillion dollars (North American Integration and Development Center). Furthermore, the study also found that “higher supply of skilled students would also advance the U.S. global competitive position in science, technology, medicine, education and many other endeavors.” In turn, these now professionals, will be capable of creating their own businesses and thus creating jobs.
Studies done on the fiscal impacts of the DREAM Act:
The DREAM Act would save taxpayers money: A RAND study from 1999 shows that raising the college graduation rate of Hispanics to that of non-Hispanic whites would increase spending on public education by 10 percent nationwide, but the costs would be more than offset by savings in public health and benefits, as well as by increased tax revenues resulting from higher incomes.
The DREAM Act would give beneficiaries the opportunity to increase their standard of living – and their tax contributions: If legalized, DREAM Act beneficiaries would have access to greater educational opportunities and better jobs, which in turn means more taxable income. According to a study from Arizona State University, an individual with a bachelor’s degree earns approximately $750,000 more over the course of his/her lifetime than an individual with only a high-school diploma.
Reduces the Deficit:
After opposition forces to the DREAM Act demanded a Congressional report on the fiscal impact of the DREAM Act (proclaiming that supporters were hiding the “true” figures), the CBO complied and released their findings.
“The increase in authorized workers would affect individual and corporate income taxes, as well as social insurance taxes. On balance, those changes would increase revenues by $2.3 billion over 10 years, according to estimates provided by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).
CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the bill would reduce deficits by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2020 period. That result reflects an increase in on-budget deficits of about $1.4 billion over that period and a decrease in off-budget deficits of about $2.8 billion over the same period. Only the on-budget effects are counted for purposes of enforcing the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.
The majority of the American people support it
The Majority of polling done on the DREAM Act shows a majority support the legislation. the most recent polling data:
A Rasmussen poll asked voters if they support it: “52 percent — of likely U.S. voters said children brought to the U.S. illegally who complete two years of college should get a path to legal status, while 36 percent said these children should not be given an opportunity to become citizens.”
In another poll conducted by Gallup: “Fifty-four percent of likely U.S voters questioned in the survey say they would vote for the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for thousands of young adults currently living in the country illegally, with 42 percent saying they would vote against the bill and four percent unsure.
A poll done a bit earlier in the year, August 2010 by the Opinion Research Corporation: “70 percent of people in the U.S. are in favor of the legislation, an increase from the 58 percent who supported the measure in 2004.”
The United States armed forces endorses the DREAM Act:
Department of Defense’s FY2010-12 Strategic Plan specifically mentions the DREAM Act as a way to help the military “shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.”
The Center for Naval Analyses issued a report: immigrants in the military have high levels of performance and lower rates of attrition. The report noted that non-citizens add valuable diversity to the armed forces and perform extremely well, often having significantly lower attrition rates than other recruits. The report also pointed out that “much of the growth in the recruitment‐eligible population will come from immigration.”
David S. C. Chu, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness under George W. Bush, called for action on the DREAM Act to strengthen the military. “If their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most of these young people have no mechanism to obtain legal residency even if they have lived most of their lives here. Yet many of these young people may wish to join the military, and have the attributes needed - education, aptitude, fitness, and moral qualifications.”
It's the RIGHT thing to do:
Indeed, the DREAM Act is a bill that merely levels the playing field. Call it a "reward" if you must, but know that most didn't plan on obtaining this "reward". In fact, the vast majority didn't even know they were going to need it. Partisan politics has hindered the DREAM Act. Constant bickering between Democrats and Republicans has consequentially put many students lives on hold (even stripped eligibility in the future for some). Yes, the need for both parties to tussle for the Hispanic vote has stopped the DREAM Act because if politicians voted the way they had in the past times (or just do what they said a mere couple of month ago)...the DREAM Act would be law by now, easily. Instead, it has turned into a chess game where neither side wants to give "credit" to the other for passing the legislation. For now the legislation is on hold, but thousands of undocumented students, for ten years now, have proved to be stubborn as they come. Activists have kept the DREAM Alive throughout all these years and it's only a matter of time before years of hard work come to fruition.
Bet on it.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” -- Statue of Liberty
The DREAM Act: Creating economic opportunities (IPC Fact Check, September 16,1010).
THE DREAM Act in Arizona: An Economic Perspective (Arizona State University, September 17, 2010
Essential to the Fight: Immigrants in the Military (IPC Special Report, November, 2009)