Time to Stop DREAM-Killing

If ever passed, the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) would create a path to citizenship for those children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the States under the age of 16, graduated from an American high school, underwent various background checks, and exemplified “good moral character.” After two years of higher education at a four-year university or two years of military service, they would be able to apply for a “conditional permanent residency.” Those who have committed a felony (or three misdemeanors), who have abused a student visa, or who have participated in any other kind of fraud, are ineligible.

The national consensus seems to be that the DREAM Act is morally sound. It offers minors, who had little or no say in their parents’ decision to bring them here (and who are here anyway), a reason to succeed. If we punished these children, it would be akin to denying citizenship to the children of convicted felons.  Thankfully, in America, we judge people for who they are, not for who their parents were.

But what most people don’t seem to understand is that the DREAM Act isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also good business. It’s counterproductive for America to ensure that the most patriotic, hard working, and intelligent children of illegal aliens are deported back to their home countries or trapped in the underground economy. To keep America competitive in a global market, we must stop raiding her of her finest scholars and service members and start tapping into and taxing this promising population. Frankly, we should be honored and grateful that such people wish to be Americans and work to benefit our country.

Passing this bill would not only create incentives for illegal workers to become citizens (and remove benefits for remaining under the radar), but it would do so without any increase to existing entitlement programs. The most recent bill does not require states to provide in-state tuition for illegal children. In fact, the DREAM Act bans beneficiaries from receiving Food Stamps, Pell grants, and other financial aid. Medicaid and benefits created by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are also withheld.

We must remember that the U.S. government is already paying for the welfare (such as emergency health care) of these illegal immigrants. This bill would ease burdens on welfare programs by converting the best of these recipients into productive, tax-paying citizens. In fact, with beneficiaries being required to pay back taxes and meet other fees during the application process, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the DREAM Act could reduce the federal deficit by $1.4 billion over the next ten years. All this is great news for those who champion limited government, personal responsibility, and fiscal accountability.

Some opponents claim we should only pass the DREAM Act as part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform bill, or else, immigration issues such as border security will never be addressed. But this is inconsistent with our political experiences. Congress has shown in recent years that it is the huge, all-inclusive reform bills that take the longest to pass, and at the end of the day, most people are still left dissatisfied. Do we really think it right or pragmatic to endure another “Health Care Bill” showdown while hundreds of thousands of brave, intelligent young people (who want to boost our economy) live in threat of deportation?

The more legitimate concern is that of “chain immigration.” Thankfully, this is extremely limited. A DREAM Act recipient must reside in the United States for 12 years before sponsoring a parent or sibling, and they can never sponsor an extended family member.

Some fear we are still creating another reason for people to enter the country illegally, but the reality is this bill delivers so much more than it takes. It adds just one more incentive to a list of many, many potential blessings this nation holds for foreigners. These immigrants are more worried about putting food on the table than about bringing the rest of their country in ten years down the road. It is ludicrous to claim that there are people in Mexico or Taiwan who have decided not to immigrate illegally because the DREAM Act did not pass.

This bill is not perfect, and in the eyes of some, it will never be. But unfortunately, we live in a world where perfection is rarely obtained, especially in political matters. Supporters of the DREAM Act have made concession after concession. All major revisions, including those that disqualify recipients from entitlements, limit chain immigration, and require fees, were written in by opponents. Most remaining concerns highlight very real, serious problems elsewhere in our immigration system, not flaws in the actual DREAM Act. Anyhow, it is time for the other side to give a little and allow our deficit to shrink and our work force to grow. It is time to stop DREAM-Killing.

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