The problem: Many American students graduate from college and high school each year, and face a roadblock to their dreams: they can’t drive, can’t work legally, can’t further their education, and can’t pay taxes to contribute to the economy just because they were brought to this country illegally by their parents or lost legal status along the way. It is a classic case of lost potential and broken dreams, and the permanent underclass of youth it creates is detrimental to our economy. Former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said: “In short, although these children have built their lives here, they have no possibility of achieving and living the American dream. What a tremendous loss for them, and what a tremendous loss to our society.”
The solution: The federal DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is a bipartisan legislation that would permit these students conditional legal status and eventual citizenship granted that they meet ALL the following requirements:
–if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age of 30,
–have lived here continuously for five years,
–graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED
–have good moral character with no criminal record and
–attend college or enlist in the military.
Why should you care? There is no other pathway to citizenship for these students. Besides the injustice of punishing children for the alleged transgressions of their parents, throwing away the talent we have invested in from K-12 and accruing losses in human and financial capital by deporting talented students is bad public policy. The Social Security Administration has recently stated that we need a net increase of 100,000 immigrants each year to ensure Social Security solvency. Passing the DREAM Act would actually help solve the Social Security crisis by creating a larger taxable base of educated Americans that are already in the United States. It would also free some of the backlog that currently plagues the legal immigration system. Also, the DREAM Act in its latest form, does not grant in-state tuition to any student.
Endorsements: Since 2001, almost a 1000 organizations have officially endorsed the bill. Barack Obama has stated that DREAM Act beneficiaries are “American children for all intents and purposes” and has called this a top priority.
Tell President-Elect Obama to pass the DREAM Act in 2009. See DreamActivist.org to get more involved.
(MA Graduate Immigrant LGBT Student), San Francisco, CA