Making sense of the DREAM Act
The pro-DREAM argument appeals directly to Americans’ generosity and sense of fairness, not our self-interest. The hoops kids must go through to qualify for DREAM are focused on self-improvement for the kids themselves, not (like the Founders Visa) on maximizing benefits for American citizens. There’s no quota on the number of kids who are eligible, and at the end of the process the kids get to be full-fledged members of the American community.
Nothing about this says that we should “value the children of unauthorized immigrants more than the children of other people living in impoverished countries.” I wish Congress would also enact legislation to help children of people living in impoverished countries. If Reihan has a realistic plan for doing that, I’ll be among its earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. Unfortunately, I think the political climate in the United States makes that unlikely to happen any time soon. But that’s not the fault of the DREAM Act or its supporters. And voting down DREAM will make more ambitious reforms less, not more, likely.
Absolutely. Here’s what the DREAM Act does. If you meet the following criteria (below) you then have six years to obtain a two-year degree or serve for two years in the United States military. Then you get citizenship. Here’s the criteria:
- You entered the country before the age of 16;
- You graduate high school or obtain a GED;
- You have good moral character (no criminal record); and
- You have at least five years of continuous presence in the US.
In other words, a bunch of kids who had no choice whether they came to America or not who have no criminal records and have lived here for at least five years, can do something to improve their lives and serve their (adoptive) country and in return they get to become full partners in the American dream. This is exactly how immigration reform should tackle the question of illegal immigrant minors – with compassion, by asking them to put in some effort and do some good, and give something back in return. As Tim notes, this is appealing because it plays “directly to Americans’ generosity and sense of fairness”.
I think it’s an admirable piece of legislation, and I hope it passes. Then again, like Ronald Reagan, I’m more of an open-borders guy myself. If you can work hard and make society better, then who cares where you were born? Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans any more than new babies take jobs from Americans. We can absorb as many hard working people as you can throw at us. As the labor pool grows, so does demand, so does the economy as a whole.
If we want to stop the problems we do find attached to illegal immigration, then it’s time to reform our drug laws. Until that happens, crime will never stop at our borders.
A friend informs me that I have it a bit wrong:
Just because I’m policy-trolling this week: The bill […] in this post is the version introduced in the Senate last week. But that’s not the version they’ll be taking up next week; they’ll take up the version that just passed the House. That bill requires that beneficiaries fill the educational or military requirements within 5 years, in time to apply for a renewal of conditional status (which lasts another 5 years). After that, they get green cards, and have to wait another 3 years for citizenship.