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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.