It seems to me that politicians today sometimes forget who it is they work for. They seem to forget whom it is they are representing. For far too long, politicos in Washington have been busy playing political games, indulging in useless bickering, and primarily focusing in scoring political points instead of doing what its right for the country and what its right for its people.
One topic that comes to mind when reflecting upon this issue is immigration. In specific, legislation such as:The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act. Legislation such as the DREAM Act has faced various obstructions and difficulties in Congress due to the same old political games getting in the way of smart legislation becoming the law of the land.
So what exactly is the DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation designed to grant opportunity to certain undocumented alien minors to be put on a path towards legalization, the act has been pushed by various congress members, both democrats and republicans since the Bush Administration back in 2001.
Qualifying for the DREAM Act is not an easy task. In order to be eligible and have a chance at legalization, undocumented minors must have arrived in the United States before the age of 15, graduated from a U.S. High School, lived in the country for at least five years, and be under the age of 29 since the passage of the act.
Individuals must also be of good moral character according to the standards of the Department of Homeland Security. They must undergo an extensive list of criminal background checks, medical examinations, biometrical appointments, and be registered for selective service. Ultimately, individuals who have received a final order of deportation, or have engaged in criminal activity as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act are not eligible to apply.
Even after being eligible for conditional residency, individuals must first attend community college for two years or join the military in order to be granted conditional status. After six years of being a conditional resident, individuals can begin the long process of becoming permanent residents, and eventually United States citizens. Keep in mind, that in order to be fair to those who applied legally, this group of undocumented immigrants would be placed at the back of the line.
Aside from being very selective, the DREAM Act also limits the idea of chain migration. Those who qualify for the act would only be able to sponsor parents or direct siblings after 12 years of becoming conditional residents. In addition, conditional immigrants would not be eligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps, and other entitlement programs—disproving the myth that the DREAM act would instantly allow undocumented immigrants to exhaust and abuse American entitlement programs.
These are people who arrived to this country to no fault of their own. Most of them came to country illegally following their parents. America is the only place they know to call home. In fact, a majority of them were raised here, go to our schools, pledge alliance to our flag, and recite the Star Spangled Banner by heart.
So why is it that this legislation does not get passed? In short, the issue gets political. A number of congressmen are voting a certain way in order to gain favorable political points, instead of voting for what its right for the country. How is it that the majority of Americans agree with the passage of the DREAM and yet this act does not get passed?
In December of 2010, The United States military came out stating that the passage of the DREAM Act would be the right choice for America, since the act requires undocumented minors to either join the military or attend community college. So no matter which path these people choose, they are contributing to our country one way or another.
In addition, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the 2010 version of the DREAM Act would reduce the national deficit by about $1.4 billion over the next decade, and increase government revenues by $2.3 billion during the next 10 years.
Overall, the DREAM Act does not solve our immigration problem in its entirety. However, it is a step in the right direction while Congress continues to debate the long-term solution for our broken immigration system. If there is anyone who deserves to be given the chance to legalize their status in the United States of America, it’s the undocumented minors who came to this country to no fault of their own. They were raised here, and embedded with our values and principles. They are Americans in all, but a piece of paper.