The Dream Act - Four Bills, One Bad Policy

There is a lot of merit to the Dream Act. And now we have four versions of the Dream Act to pick from.  The newest version, S.3992, fixes many of the objections raised in earlier TexasGOPVote articles. For instance, "Uniformed Service" was changed back to "Armed Forces" after the trick pulled earlier this week and reported here. But the problem with all of these bill's is they do nothing about the root problem, Border Security.

Currently American immigration policy and US Border Security are in about the same condition as the Titanic after striking the iceberg.  It is broken badly and taking on water at a rapid rate.

Why the Dream Act is, in principle, a good idea

On the surface, the Dream Act is probably a good idea that should be implemented. The Dream Act applied to the children of illegal aliens. Children are not culpable for the crimes of their parents. This leaves these children in a legal limbo where they haven't willingly broken our laws to get here, but yet, they are still punished for something they had no part in. By law, we have to educate all children in this country, legal or illegal. 

These children are raised as Americans. We spend nearly $100,000 educating them in our public school system.  Many excel in our schools and, given the opportunity, would go on to serve our country well as honest, tax paying workers, given the opportunity. The Dream Act would give them that opportunity.  Not by granting them amnesty, but rather, by offering them a pathway to earn legal immigrant status through improving their education or serving our country in the Armed Forces of America. This is good public policy for America as it provides us with more, well educated, workers to be productive tax-payers.

It should be noted, the Dream Act does not grant citizenship on anyone. It provides a temporary legal status. And, after completing the requirements, it allows them to become Legal Permanent Residents. From there, they must go through the same naturalization process as any other legal immigrant. 

This version of the bill also removes the privilege of In-State Tuition that was to be granted in previous versions of the act.

Why this is a bad idea right now

There are several reasons why we should not pass the Dream Act as it is currently written.

  1. Border Security: This bill addresses the problems of the children of illegal immigrants who are in this country today. But, without meaningful border security, more illegal aliens will bring their children here tomorrow and next year expecting the same treatment. This is clearly a case of bailing out the boat while it still has a massive hole in the hull.
  2. Loop holes: There are way too many loop holes and vague waivers contained in all four versions of the Dream Act. As an example; "WAIVER- Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive the ground of ineligibility under paragraph (1), (4), or (6) of section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the ground of deportability under paragraph (1) of section 237(a) of that Act for humanitarian purposes or family unity or when it is otherwise in the public interest.
  3. Bad Precedent: Typically, lame duck Congresses do not move forward major pieces of society-changing legislation. The traditional purpose of the lame duck Congress is to act in a "care taker" function to tie up necessary legislation to keep the government running until the newly elected Congress takes office in January. The Dream Act is clearly a major society-changing piece of legislation and should rightfully be addressed by the newly elected Congress and not by the people we have already fired for previous bad public policy decisions. How many people would let a "fired employee" make major decisions about company policy on their way out the door?

This is not a crisis that must be dealt with before January 2nd, 2011. The Democrats had all of last year and much of this year where they could have passed this legislation with no Republican support whatsoever. And clearly, they could have passed it this year, had they allowed Republicans to actually participate in actually drafting and amending the Act to fix objectionable sections of the Act. For whatever reason, apparently they did not want to pass it so they blocked out Republican participation and tied the bills to other liberal/socialist agenda items like abortion on demand at military bases and "don't ask, don't tell" amendments that they knew would fuel Republican objection to the Dream Act.

It is time to stop playing games with these children and this issue. Urge your senators to vote against all four versions of the Dream Act this month and then draft new and better legislation to address these issues in the new Congress in January.

The duck is tired. Let him retire in peace. Pass legislation necessary to the functioning of the government until January. Leave major policy decisions to the new Congress.


Make sure to check out the comments on Facebook.

Thank you for this thoughtful post.  I agree with you that the DREAM Act makes sense and for that reason I think it should be enacted.  Responding to your concerns:* Border Security.  I agree that we need to fix our entire immigration system, but it's not fair to ask DREAM Act students to wait for relief until that happens.  Yes, more DREAM Act students will continue to be created until the system is fixed, including sufficient border and interior security.  But saying that we shouldn't grant relief until that happens is like saying that we shouldn't tend to wounded civilians until the war is over.* Loopholes.  Any law like this has to have some "loopholes" to allow the immigration enforcers to show mercy when a provision leads to unintended consequences. The waiver you quote is a good example of that.  It applies only to the following requirements:  (1) communicable diseases of public health significance; (2) public charge (poverty and need for public benefits); and (3) people who have violated their visas for various reasons, such as failure to attend a removal proceeding.  It makes sense and is humane to have some kind of waiver available for these requirements.* Precedent.  The students in question are not responsible for the disfunctionality of our current system and shouldn't be required to pay a penalty just because Congress is only now getting around to this vote.  We shouldn't allow the messiness of politics to stand in the way of legislation that you characterize as "good public policy for America as it provides us with more, well educated, workers to be productive tax-payers."Thanks for listening.

"The government estimated Monday that the country’s population grew to somewhere between roughly 306 million and 313 million over the last decade"

there is NO pressing need for a bigger, more crowded, densely populated  U.S. than we already have, there is NO need to discriminate against the children of American citizens, and replacing hard to get openings in tier 1 universities and colleges with children of people who broke U.S. immigration law, when they cheated and jumped in front of everyone else in the world waiting to get here.
The only "dysfunctionality" as you put it, lies in the country of mexico, which is so corrupt and broken, that it drives it citizens to other countries.  mexico seems to treat its own citizens like some kind of corn or soybean commodity to be "exported."  All immigration laws should be obeyed, and enforced, and if enforced, perhaps it would force mexico to straighten up it's own country and build an economy that works.  Question:  why does canada seem to have a healthy economy?  canada already has mexico mad at it, because in canada, they have the unmitigated gal to enforce their PROPER immigration channels and laws.  This has infuriated mexico and slowed down the flow considerably of mexicans into canada.  So, you tell me why canada has it's act together, while mexico seems to only increase in murders per capita, as opposed to creating jobs for it's own people?  And perhaps you can tell me why one ethnic group in particular, gets to be rewarded with entrance into American colleges after breaking the law?  If my kids do something illegal or cause damage, I as a parent am legally responsible for the harm they cause.  Why should one ethnic group in particular get a pass on legal and financial responsibility of the parent?

I'm a Republican. I'm a twenty year Marine Infantry veteran. I'm for a strong United States of America second to none. We Republicans are fools if we continue to turn our backs on these great kids who should not be punished for the sins of their parents. I know I am thankful that my kids aren't and I'm sure your kids are glad they are not punished because of your sins/crimes.  As such, we have kids who are making 5's on their AP exams, over 1,000 on their SAT exams and who are getting degrees from four year universities and yet we are cowards for not engaging that loyal, taxpaying potential.  These exceptional kids want to serve "their country" but yet can't! This is insane. Secure the border! Punish the employers with $100,000 fine "PER ILLEGAL" and five years in prison!  But these young Americans who have been here need to be brought fully into the fold so that we as a country can bennefit from them.  Think strategically!  308 million Americans vs 1,400 million (1.4 billion) chinese. That is our real competition so let's enlist the 2,000,000 American kids into the fight!  WAKE UP AMERICA!

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