The DREAM Act debate: Nightmare for legal immigrant students
Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010 15:09
Once again, immigration has become a hot topic in the United States.
For example, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, (DREAM) Act, was re-introduced to Congress in 2009.
Like the previous versions of the DREAM Act introduced to Congress in 2001, 2005 and 2007, this 2009 version should also not be approved.
The DREAM Act is a bi-partisan proposal sponsored by Sen.Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill).
It would provide approximately 700,000 immigrant children who were brought to the United States illegally and not of their own will with a pathway to become American citizens.
These children would have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the benefits outlined in the DREAM Act.
The applicant would have to be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time the law is enacted, must have arrived in the United States before the age of 16, must have resided continuously in the United States for at least five consecutive years since just arriving, must have graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED, and must be of "good moral character."
If the applicant meets these criteria, he or she could be issued temporary residency status for a period of six years during which time he or she would have to either attend college and earn at least a two-year degree or serve in the U. S. military for two years.
If the applicant fulfills all these conditions by the end of the six-year period, he or she would be granted Permanent Residency, which would open the door to U.S. citizenship.
However, if the applicant fails to complete the educational or military requirements, he or she would lose temporary residency status and be subjected to deportation.
With an estimated 65,000 unauthorized migrant youth graduating from U.S. high schools every year, according the official DREAM Act website, supporters of the DREAM Act believe it will benefit the country to give these students—in essence the "future of America"—an opportunity to pursue their hopes and dreams by either attending college or serving in the military and giving them a chance at realizing the coveted American Dream.
While I sympathize with these children's plight, I also believe that those benefits should be given only to those immigrants who are already legal residents of the United States.
In 2001, California passed AB 540, which allowed illegal immigrant children access to in-state tuition rates. The only requirement was that the student attend a California high school for three or more years and provide an affidavit stating that the student will apply for legalization once he or she is eligible.
Because of this, students who qualify for the federal DREAM Act and intend to fulfill their requirements by attending college in California may be allowed to pay lower tuition rates.
Students who are American citizens from out-of-state, international students with visas and those who are lawful permanent residents will have to pay the full tuition rates, but those here illegally benefit from in-state tuition rates.
Now that is absolutely ridiculous and unfair. What kind of message would that be sending?
The DREAM Act would only provide a powerful incentive for more illegal immigration.
Some might argue that the children who were brought to America illegally by their parents have grown up here and are culturally American.
However, the fact remains that they, as well as their parents, are still here illegally.
I understand that the children are not responsible for their undocumented status. However, if Congress passes this bill, the parents who violated immigration laws will benefit through kindness shown to their children.
Every parent wants a better future for his or her children, but bringing them here illegally is not the way to achieve that goal.
Good intentions cannot ameliorate the fact that they have committed a crime.
The children have been thrust into a legal gray. Rewarding those who commit a crime is not only unacceptable, but it is unconstitutional as well.