DREAM Act: A Tiny Step in the Right Direction

From guest blogger Santiago J. Valenzuela

The DREAM act is coming up in the news again and may be passed through the lame duck congress before the Republican majority takes over the house (which will likely kill any prospect of positive immigration reform.)  While DREAM Act has majors flaws that I will go over, I think it at least gets the ball rolling in the right direction and will present an opportunity to shift the debate from xenophobic rhetoric back to the realities of the situation.

Lets review what the DREAM Act would actually do:

  1. It would allow children who were brought into the US illegally a chance to change their status to legal residents.
  2. It has some onerous requirements to be fulfilled for doing so (go to college to obtain a bachelor's degree or join the military.)

This has some far-reaching implications. These children would eventually have a "path to citizenship." While the bill focuses on these children, the real effects (starting some years down the road), would be to open a path to legal residency and citizenship to the immediate families of these children, also likely in the country illegally.

DREAM Act is not perfect though.  The educational and military requirements and relatively long time period (it will be 6 years before the first DREAM Act students and veterans can get legal residency as opposed to temporary residency, and then some years after that until some of those can then apply for and gain US citizenship) it will take to "normalize" these students are major drawbacks, but in this current immigration situation, I believe it is imperative to get as many illegals normalized as possible.

While the Republicans will scream that the sky will fall if these people are allowed to stay in the country, the passage of this act will give an opportunity to show that the latest wave of immigration is much like previous ones in US history - confronted by prejudice, but determined to overcome it and take advantage of the great freedom and prosperity that America promises.

Of course, on its own the DREAM Act is woefully inadequate. It fails to address our broken, immoral and unsustainable quota system. It fails to recognize the rights of businessmen to hire whom they please. It only puts a tiny dent into the real problem, but a dent is far better than nothing and a defeat of this bill will be hailed by the xenophobic Right as a defeat for any attempt at rational immigration reform.

Therefore, reluctantly and with no small amount of reservations, I endorse the DREAM Act.

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