DREAM Act Faces Senate Vote

The controversial proposal would provide a naturalization possibility for young illegal immigrants

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The Senate is set to vote on the DREAM Act Thursday, a provision that, if passed, would create the opportunity for young illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through college education or military service. The House passed it Wednesday night. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been in the works since 2003, but has faced harsh criticism from opponents who consider it an incentive for illegal immigration and was unable to attain the 60 votes needed in the most recent Senate vote last September.

In anticipation of today's vote, varied opinions and arguments are being made for the DREAM Act's fate.

  • Remember the American Dream Supporters of the DREAM Act argue that its beneficiaries should not be held responsible for their parents decisions to immigrate illegally to the U.S. when they were young. Rather, they should be allowed the opportunity to become educated, productive members of society. Richard Hernan at AOL News agrees with these arguments, but points out that the most important reason to pass the Act is to perpetuate the American dream, founded on the success of immigrants. Hernan writes:
These young immigrants, and the foreign-born generally, play an indispensable role in creating an optimistic and confident tone in the country. In effect, they are the keepers of the American Dream.

Part myth, part religion, part reality, the American Dream is essential because it is what unites us. It is the shared belief that, in America, anything is possible, that people starting at the very bottom can catapult themselves to the very top. It is a belief a new tomorrow. And immigrants keep this flame alive.
  • Scam Artists Are Scant  With the enticing offer of American citizenship in exchange for college graduation or military service, some critics wonder if the Dream Act will encourage more foreigners to sneak into the country illegally. The Guardian's Michael Tomasky is skeptical of this negative assessment of people's motivations. He admits "there will be a small percentage of people who'll run scams to get into college and get their green cards. This is inevitable because a small percentage of humans are scam artists." But, he explains, it's more likely that those taking advantage of the Act will already have had their eyes on the productive pursuits in question:
I think that to join the army or go to college, you have to want to...join the army or go to college. Then the circumstances have to be right. The recruitment officer has to be conveniently located. The college quad has to be pleasing to your eye. You have to like the recruitment officer or admissions officer. And so on and so on.
  • DREAM Works Against Border Enforcement Goals  On the other hand, DREAM Act opponent Allahpundit at Hot Air lists his qualms with the provisions of the act and those who support it. "It allows illegals who have committed up to two misdemeanors (and not just the nonviolent ones) to qualify for legalization," he notes, and "it would grant an automatic ten-year work permit to anyone who applies under the act--even if they lie on their application." On a whole, he believes the act "confounds the basic bargain of comprehensive immigration reform. The inchoate deal all along has been that there'll be a path to citizenship for some illegals in exchange for securing the border first. Voting yes on DREAM thus necessarily means ceding leverage on border enforcement."
  • Illegal Immigrants Have Broken the Law  Katie Pavlich at Townhall points out that violent criminals aren't the only law-breakers who will be allowed citizenship if the DREAM Act is passed. "It should also be noted that all illegal immigrants have broken federal law by coming to the United States without going through the required process for entry in the first place. It is also a federal crime to stay in the country for a longer period of time than permitted on a visa," she writes
  • More People to Pay Taxes  Unlike undocumented immigrants secretly living in the US, legalized citizens must pay taxes. Additionally, the act would create a whole demographic from which the Army could recruit. Shaun Mullen at The Moderate Voice points out that DREAM "has the support of the Congressional Budget Office, which says it would help lower the deficit, and the Pentagon, which wants to remove a roadblock to recruiting."
  • Voting Rights Should Not Be Included  Shawn Mallow at Wizbang suggests the liberal push for compassion towards young illegal immigrants is really part of a political strategy to add to the Democratic voting base. "The true basis of Liberal support for the DREAM Act has absolutely nothing to do with compassion. It is nothing more than a cold and calculated plan to create a new multi-million strong voting block of illegals who will only vote for those politicians that enabled them to disregard their criminal status, thus ensuring they become slaves to a political agenda." A solution to this scheme? Mallow proposes "an amendment to the DREAM Act that says, since the people benefiting from this legislation did not have to go through the normal process to become a naturalized citizen, they will not be allowed the privilege to vote."
  • Low Risk, High Return  Daniel Griswold explains on the Cato at Liberty blog why the US has little to lose and a lot to gain by allowing eligible young immigrants to become citizens:
Because they came here at a young age, they almost all speak English fluently and are at home in American society. The fact that they have completed high school and will be attending college makes it likely they and their descendants will pay more taxes than they consume in government services during their lifetimes. With the U.S. birthrate hovering at the replacement level, these assimilated, immigrant students at the beginning of their careers will help the United Statesmaintain a healthy growth rate in our workforce.
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