10 Nov 2003
(updated 10 Nov 2003 at 22:09 UTC) »
I hadn't heard about the DREAM Act until deekayen pointed it out. Though, I disagree with his position.
I have always been a firm believer in the necessity of education. On the surface, it is easy to dismiss the DREAM Act as free money for illegal immigrants and suggest that it encourages and supports the violation of law and is a burden for society, but it's really more complicated than that. As future presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich puts it, education is the only proven method for reducing poverty and the DREAM Act is designed to do just that and give immigrants the opportunity to pursure an education and become productive members of society.
There are some provisions though. The DREAM Act is not designed merely for any illegal immigrant that makes their way to this country, it is intended for the children of illegal immigrants, who have not only established residence for 5 years but have also graduated high school in the United States. This provision is designed to recognize the fact that many children do not have a say in the decision to come to the U.S. and it is wrong to hold them fully liable for the immigration status derived from their parents and thus should be given as much an opportunity to succeed in this society as their classmates.
Also, the DREAM Act does not necessarily mean free money for immigrants. DREAM Act beneficiaries are ineligible for Federal Financial Aid Grants, Pell Grants and Federal Special Education Opportunity Grants. Instead, the DREAM Act returns to states the right to decide who is eligible for in-state tuition and provides eligibility for Federal Loans and Federal Work-Study Programs.
I was surprised to find that Orin Hatch was responsible for introducing this bill to the Senate, at least now he's done some good. Another surprising bit of information is that this bill is bipartisan and supported by both parties. I believe the DREAM Act can do some good and will support it. In the long run, it may actually end up saving money, it's a far better solution than, say, denying someone access to quality education and waiting for them to become a burden to society in other ways. But even if it doesn't save money it's worth doing, education should be a far higher priority in this country and we, as a society benefit more from educating people than by not, at any cost.