Is the DREAM Act good for America? Yes.


By Aaron Brooks

Maybe it is because my ancestors immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1840 that I support the DREAM Act.

Maybe it is because I am a progressive and believe that all humans should be treated with equality and dignity that I am against keeping a population of people in purgatory for actions beyond their control.

Maybe it is because I actually read and researched the DREAM Act that I know it is not about immigration, but reduction of paperwork and strengthening our economy.

The gist of the proposed legislation is to allow children of undocumented aliens-who entered the U.S. before age 16-access to federal loans for higher education. If qualifying conditions are met, they can apply for the DREAM Act.

Once accepted, they are granted Conditional Permanent Residency status for six years, and must attain at least a bachelor’s degree or serve in the military. At the end of the six years, if all requirements are fulfilled, they can apply for citizenship.

“You have to divorce the DREAM Act from immigration law,” said Guadalupe Luna, professor at NIU Law School and expert on immigration law. “The issue at hand deals with a small group of students who have worked very hard to get an education. They are working two, three, four jobs; ride buses; sleep on couches or on campus to save time and money; and they still have good GPAs.”

Currently, undocumented students do not receive any aid or loans from the federal government and most states. While grants, such as the Pell Grant, would still be unavailable, the DREAM Act seeks to minimize the financial burden imposed on these people.

Critics may argue that they do not deserve help because they broke the law. To say that someone broke the law, you first have to know the law.

In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled children of undocumented aliens are not accountable for their “disabling status,” according to section 3B.

A second myth is that undocumented aliens do not contribute to the economic wellbeing of our society and therefore, they are undeserving of societal support. This too is dismissed by the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Plyler v. Doe section 5 as being contrary to the evidence.

Another rebuttal of the critics is that it will disenfranchise citizen students, or harm academia or the military. This view is rejected in Grutter v. Bollinger , where the Supreme Court ruled that diversity is a compelling interest of business, military and academia because it increases their competency.

Most importantly, the DREAM Act is about treating people with dignity. If one were to obtain a bachelor’s degree or serve our country, they would not only be equipped with the necessary tools to achieve citizenship through the conventional procedures, but there would also be no denying that they have earned it. Instead of requiring these people to jump through another hoop, we should just rationally say, “We gotcha.”

If you would like more information on the DREAM Act, a simple web search will give you the big picture.

The Los Angeles Times has some great human interest articles on undocumented students, and the websites for the Immigration Policy Center and National Immigration Law Center have specifics on the DREAM Act.