Should the U.S. Government Enact the DREAM Act?
CURRENT STATE OF THE CONTROVERSY
Many people are still divided concerning the Dream Act. Some continue to believe that it would be better to pass the legislation in their states and benefit immigrant children. Others hold the opinion that doing so would be unfair. Part of the controversy comes from the failure to understand the provisions of the act. Some people do not seem to realize that the acts only holds true for children under the age of sixteen who have lived in America for the past five years. They think that it applies to all undocumented people in the country. States have decided to apply their own legislations on the issue. As people continue debating the issue in their respective circles, the number of undocumented people finishing high school continues to increase and they will not have any meaningful prospects in their lives if their states fail to pass the act.
PRESENTATION OF THE CASE
PRESENATION OF THE PROPONENTS’ CASE
Stakeholders holding the position (general and specific)
People from different divides support the dream act. Most of the support comes from the Latino community, who are mostly affected by the decision. Many Latinas have had to live with the fact that they cannot advance further in life since they are undocumented. Even though they work hard in school, they have to contend with the minimal education they get since they cannot advance to college. However, with the passage of the act, many students with undocumented status would get the opportunity to advance their education to college level.
Other proponents include American citizens who believe that failure to pass the act constitutes racism. They have rallied in support of the act. Many legislators, especially democrats, are in support of the act. They have managed to convince people concerning the benefits and importance of passing the legislation. Some individuals have had notable and significant influence in establishing different provisions of the bill. Senator Durbin, president Obama, Representative Berman, Rick Perry, and Representative Rivera are some of the leaders who have supported the bill in different ways.
Issues in contention
The main issue in contention concerns the fact that many children did not have a choice over their status. They are the children of immigrant parents. Some of them were born in the country while others came when they were very young. Failure to pass the act would be punishing such children. Many of them have spent most of their lives in the country. They do not have any other home. Denying them the chance to make a better life for themselves would be robbing them of the chance to have a good future. They cannot get good jobs since they are not qualified for many skilled jobs. This will only relegate them to lowly paid jobs.
Arguments with supporting evidence (3)
The country would benefit more if it decided to pass the dream act. Giving the children a chance to study to the highest level will benefit them greatly. They do not have to live in fear. They can participate in different activities aimed at helping their communities. Many of the immigrant children want to give back to their communities and they want to participate in matters that will improve the nation (Callahan and Muller 127). This will help to end some of the problems facing the society. Those who choose to can decide to join the military and this will enable them to serve their country. The military will expand its recruiting pool and this will help in its readiness. In addition, passing the act will be good for security reasons and it will enable the government to use its resources more efficiently. It will ensure that the department of homeland security focuses on only the people who pose a real threat to the country’s security and not on undocumented children and youths (Miranda).
Passing the dream act will ensure that the country benefits economically and it will make it more competitive (The DREAM Act). Students who are able to reach their full potential will eventually have a better future and they can create jobs. In addition, estimates indicate that the act will cut deficits by $1.4billion and increase the revenue that the government collects by $2.3billion in the course of the next ten years. The income that the students will earn when they graduate is significantly higher than what they would earn if they worked at low-level menial jobs. They will get a chance to acquire legal employment and they will become taxpayers and thus contribute to the country’s economy (Miranda). The government spends a lot of money trying to help the poor. It can change this if it enabled more people to get jobs without the fear of deportation. If young people get the chance to work, they can assist their families and this will reduce the money that the government spends on welfare.
Many of the children affected by the dream act did not have a choice in their situation. They did what their parents asked them to and some of them were too young to make the decision to move (The DREAM Act). The US is the only country they know ever since they were young. They have no recollection of the life they led in their native country. They do not know their extended families in their parents land. The only people they know are their neighbors, friends, and schoolmates in the US. Some of them do not even know their native languages. Since they have been brought up in the US, they only know the American culture. Failure to pass the act would disrupt the lives of such children. They would not know where to start rebuilding their lives. It would be denying them of the only home they have ever known (Motomura).
Those who support the bill are urging the public to consider the plight of the immigrant children. They continue to hold demonstrations across the country so that they can raise awareness concerning their situation. They have enlisted the support of American citizens who are sympathetic to their cause. Some legislators have introduced bills aimed at legalizing the status of the undocumented students in congress. The president and his government are the main supporters of the bill. He continues to urge legislators to consider the provisions of the bill as part of the immigration law reforms. According to the president, those who came to the US as children and they have met the criteria required in the act will be considered from deportation. The person should have been under the age of sixteen when he came to the US for the first time. He or she must be a student, should have graduated from high school, honorably discharged from the armed forces or should have a general education development certificate. The other criterion is that the person should not have been convicted of any felony offense or significant misdemeanors. In addition, he or she should not be more than thirty years old (Bruno 1).
PRESENTATION OF OPPONENTS’ CASE
Stakeholders holding the position (general and specific)
Those who oppose the act sight the fact that it would be unfair and it would not help to solve the problem of illegal immigrants in the country. Many conservatives are in opposition. One such person is senator Jeff Sessions, who is a ranking member of the judiciary committee. Other conservative legislators have voiced their concern and they have driven awareness campaigns aimed at urging a majority of the people not to support the act.
Issues in contention – brief introduction of the side’s issues
The main contentious issue is that the act does not help to solve the problem of illegal immigration but that it condones the behavior. The opponents see the act as a form of reward. They believe that passing the act constitutes rewarding people for the action of being in the country illegally. Those who are against the dream act see it as a way of justifying the behavior of illegal immigration. The proponents of the act fail to consider that this is a crime. There is no such thing as criminals who obey the law. Therefore, it does not matter if the immigrants are law-abiding citizens since their very presence in the country constitutes a criminal act (Pavliv)
Arguments with supporting evidence (3)
Opponents argue that the dream act would provide a channel for many people to enter the country illegally. Passing the act is undermining the law. It communicates the message that America is not serious and strict concerning its immigration laws. Furthermore, it undermines the law by permitting people to continue committing crime with no repercussions. Many people will send their children to the US so that they can get documented status. They will try entering the country through any means possible. This will intensify the illegal immigration problem that the country is already facing. It will increase the number of illegal immigrants in the country.
The dream act would drain the country’s economy. The act provides that undocumented students can get access to student loans and grants. They can pay the same fees in colleges as other students. This is unfair considering that some US students are charged out of state tuition rates that tend to be higher (Bruno 11). Thus, the undocumented citizens would be getting privileges that are not available to all the US citizens. The government spends a lot of money on undocumented persons. It gives them the chance to attend public institutions of learning and they can get treatment from public healthcare facilities. This comes at a cost to the American taxpayer. On the other hand, the undocumented citizens do not pay taxes yet they benefit from government services.
The act is a source of conflict and it would breed animosity among different groups. Many citizens feel that the immigrants are not supposed to receive benefits from the government. They are of the opinion that the government does not owe the immigrants anything (Pavliv). Secondly, some people have waited to acquire citizenship and rights in a legal manner. They feel that the provisions in the act are a form of injustice. Giving those students the chance to work, live, and study in the country would limit the opportunities available for the American citizens. It would increase competition for tuition aid in colleges, decrease the opportunities that Americans have of finding employment, and decrease their chance of being admitted to their preferred university (Sessions). Such conflict can lead to animosity and it can disrupt the peace enjoyed in the nation.
Different stakeholder opponents continue to fight for their cause. They do not want states to pass the act and they are looking for ways to convince the public to support them. Some of them have initiated action such as seeking signatures that will result into changing the current laws.
Andorra Bruno, Specialist in Immigration Policy. “Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues And “DREAM Act” Legislation.” (2013): 25. GalleryWatch CRS Reports. Print.
Callahan, Rebecca M., and Chandra Muller. Coming of Political Age: American schools and the civic development of immigrant youth. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013. P.170. Print.
Galassi, Jennifer. “Dare To Dream? A Review of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act. “Chicano-Latino Law Review 24. (2003): 79. LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
” Immigrant Rights & Immigration Enforcement.” The Harvard Law Review Association. Harvard Law Review, 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
Karaim, Reed. “Immigration.” CQ Researcher 15 June 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
Miranda, Luis. “Get The Facts On The DREAM Act.” The White House President Barack Obama. USA.gov, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.
Motomura, Hiroshi. “Making Legal: The Dream Act, Birthright Citizenship, and Broad Scale Legalization.” Lewis & Clark Law Review 16.4 (2012): 1127 1148. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
Oh, Soojin S., and North Cooc. “Immigration, Youth, and Education.” Harvard Education Publishing Group. Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.
Pavlich, Katie. “Legal Immigrants Against the DREAM Act.” Town Hall. N.p., 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
Sessions, Jeff. “10 Reasons to Oppose Dream Act.” Immigration News and Activism. N.p., 17 Dec. 2010. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
“The DREAM Act: Creating Opportunities for Immigrant Students and Supporting the U.S. Economy.” Immigration Policy Center. American Immigration Council, 18 May 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2014.
“The DREAM Act.” Immigration Policy Center. American Immigration Council, May 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.
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