The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is a law that aims to offer permanent residency to immigrants who show good moral character and graduates of American institutions (Schwab 21). “The DREAM Act was introduced as a piece of bipartisan legislation in 2001 under the rhetoric that the U.S. cannot longer postpone a plan for immigration reform” (Zamani-Gallagher 259).
It has not yet been passed into law by Congress. In order to qualify for residency, “an alien would have to demonstrate that he or she had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than five years immediately preceding the date of enactment” (Bruno 5). Opponents argue that if passed by Congress, the Act will provide numerous economic benefits and improve the reputation of the U.S. because it will facilitate the creation of an immigrant amnesty program (Schwab 53).
On the other hand, opponents argue that it will encourage illegal migration and criminal activities because it will protect individuals by offering them permanent residency. If enacted into law, the DREAM Act will be beneficial to the U.S, because it will have numerous economic benefits, increase the pool of recruits for the U. S. Armed Forces, lower high school dropout cases, and improve the economy.
Benefits of the DREAM Act
One of the reasons why the DREAM Act is good for America is its promise of increasing the pool of recruits for the military (The DREAM Act par. 9). Security is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining the economic prosperity of America. Therefore, increasing the number of recruits into the military and other security agencies is important. The Act promises to increase the number of individuals available to join the U. S. Armed Forces. In that regard, it will provide recruits with the required qualifications that include moral character, education, and aptitude (The DREAM Act par. 9).
In addition, it will give immigrants an opportunity to serve the country as a sign of gratitude for being offered permanent residency in the greatest economy in the world. Studies have shown that immigrant families have a strong tradition of military service. However, lack of immigration status is a major impediment to serving the country (Zamani-Gallagher 53). This Act will resolve this problem and offer opportunities to willing immigrants.
The enactment of the Act will enable the U.S. to improve its position in the global economy because it will provide innumerable economic benefits. Beneficiaries will get access to job opportunities that will increase the amount of taxes paid to the federal and state governments (The DREAM Act par. 7).
A report released by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that immigrants play a key role in promoting the American economy. For instance, after legalization of immigrants in 1986, their wages increased by 15% in a span of 5 years due to access to high-paying jobs (Bruno 74). The Act will also allow immigrants to invest in the U.S. economy because of the non-existence of uncertainties associated with being undocumented (Schwab 87).
On the other hand, it will lower the number of high-school dropout cases and save taxpayers money. Permanent residency will act as an incentive to foreign students to graduate because of the promise of better jobs and other economic benefits (Zamani-Gallagher 59). Many illegal residents take menial jobs as day laborers, domestic workers, and factory staff. They earn low wages that are insufficient to support families.
Finally, the Act will retain talented students in the country and benefit the labor market. Letting go of undocumented students whose academic achievements are funded by the money of American taxpayers would have adverse economic consequences. That would “impose economic and emotional costs on undocumented students and on U.S. society as a whole” (DREAM Act par. 16)
If passed, the DREAM Act will increase the revenues of universities and encourage other immigrant youths to pursue higher education (Schwab 92). Several states including Washington, Utah, California, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Maryland have passed laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for state funding in order to pursue education.
Universities in these states have experienced an increase in revenues and the number of students that enroll annually. Increased revenues enable universities to give grants and scholarships as well as fund research studies (Zamani-Gallagher 61). There are approximately 800,000 immigrant students in the United States.
Enabling them to access higher education will encourage other immigrant youths to pursue education in order to improve the quality of their lives. More enrollments in universities and colleges will increase the number of skilled workers, which will contribute to the growth of the economy through taxes paid at local state, and federal levels (Zamani-Gallagher 63).
The DREAM Act was first introduced as a bill in 2001. However, it has never been enacted into law because of insufficient support from members of Congress. It has elicited heated debates between opponents and proponents. Opponents argue if passed, that it will encourage illegal migration and criminal activities.
On the other hand, proponents argue that it will provide several economic benefits, reduce high school dropout cases, and enhance military recruitment. Many states that have enacted laws that allow undocumented immigrants to pursue education through state funding have experienced increases in college enrolment and university revenues. The Act is good for America and should be enacted into law.
Bruno, Andorra. Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and “DREAM Act” Legislation. New York: DIANE Publishing, 2011. Print.
Schwab, William. Right to DREAM: Immigration and America’s Future. University of Arkansas Press, 2013. Print.
The DREAM Act: Creating Opportunities for Immigrant Students and Supporting the U.S. Economy.2011. Web.
Zamani-Gallagher, Eboni. The Obama Administration and Educational Reform. New York: Emerald Group Publishing, 2014. Print.