Concerns Regarding the DREAM Act

12 Dec

Many of my friends (especially those on the left) have been rallying loudly and courageously in support of the DREAM Act, which would grant individuals with illegal immigrant status who came to the US before age 16 to earn citizenship through either military service or successful completion of two years of college. The bill recently passed in the House of Representatives before Reid tabled it in the Senate due to insufficient support. It will have to go to a vote before the lame duck session closes or face near-certain death.

Before I comment on the bill, let me make myself clear on the broader issue of immigration reform: I think undocumented young people who work or attend school in this country should be given a path to citizenship and the same civil rights as anyone else who participates positively in our society.

Now, that having been said, the DREAM Act, as I understand it, is something to which I have a very difficult time lending my countenance.

The original bill included a public service option, which was later cut. The subtraction of the public service option renders the bill more problematic at the level of justice than most of its supporters appear to realize. Only a handful of states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, and even in those states the cost of attending college is often prohibitive for this demographic. Insofar as many of these youths have never spent significant time in their countries of origin, the option of being deported is one wrought with enormous uncertainty: they would not know where to go or how to make a living. Thus, as it stands, the bill’s passage would amount to a de facto draft for many, perhaps the majority, of the undocumented youths to which it applies.

Although the high rate of unemployment has greatly boosted the military’s enlistment numbers, this most heavily funded (read: socialized) of American institutions would be happy to receive the gift of thousands of fresh, energetic new recruits whose very citizenship rides on their performance as soldiers (especially when much of the current crop of recruits is proving inadequately prepared for the rigors of gym class, much less combat). The DREAM Act would be a boon for the military-industrial complex. But would forcing the children of illegal immigrants to go overseas to participate in bloody and senseless military occupations really be a boon for them?

And even if the majority of our young sans papiers favor the bill, preferring military service to the frustration of being undocumented and the anxiety of looming deportation, there are still other victims’ concerns to consider: namely, those of the longsuffering people of Iraq and Afghanistan.


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