It’s not lights out yet for the DREAM Act

The DREAM Act has been reintroduced on Capitol Hill, and it’s picking up strong opinions on both sides of the debate. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has salvaged this, the most bi-partisantastic part of this summer’s failed immigration reform bill, and attached it to the pending defense authorization bill. The idea is that, if you’re approving funds to continue the war in Iraq, you might as well throw in some encouragement for more people to enlist.

As an organization affiliated with AmeriCorps and the Federal Gov’t, Breakthrough is precluded from taking a stand on issues like this. We do our best to present both sides of an issue. We all have our personal views, and you’ll have to choose for yourself.

Yay! DREAM: “Pass the Dream Act” (NY Times)
Boo! DREAM: DREAM Act Would Grant Amnesty to Illegal Aliens” (SW Nebraska News)

The DREAM Act is one of the most significant pieces of proposed legislation regarding education. If passed, it would give undocumented students who entered the U.S. as minors and have completed 2 years of college or military service a path to citizenship. Also, it would make them eligible for in-state tuition at public universities. Proponents of the DREAM Act, however, see it as a fair policy for students who themselves never violated any laws and aspire to fully participate in American society as college graduates. Consider a kid who comes to America as a toddler without documents, grows up in the school system, learns English, and excels in school. She is admitted to college and pays out of pocket for the privilege. DREAM would give her a chance to seek citizenship and apply for financial aid. Moreover, if a college education promises a chance for citizenship, one can expect more buy-in from students and commitment to the school system.

So why do some folks consider it a nightmare? Anti-DREAM Act reasoning says that it encourages illegal immigration and takes aways opportunities from American-born college students. Opponents of this sort of reform feel that no matter how you color it, immigrants without documents are breaking the law, and society shouldn’t reward them or their children with taxpayer-funded services.

But enough about what others say: what do YOU think? Let us know on TeachBreakthroughs or, better yet, write your Senators and let ’em know how you feel!

PS: The U.S. government sure loves acronyms. In case you’re wondering, the DREAM in DREAM Act stands for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.”


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