Dream Act

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Education is a benefit for society. Higher education offers higher economic advantages for both workers and the economy. The United States is the home of about 65,000 undocumented children who graduate high school each year and have lived in the country for more than five years (Dreams Deferred, 2010). These children are intelligent, outstanding class presidents, valedictorians, and honor students who aspire to be successful doctors, engineers, teachers, and lawyers. However, because of legal and financial obstacles confronting them just because they are undocumented students, many are unable to live their American dream and attend a college or university. It is estimated that only about 5 to 10% of undocumented high school graduates go on to college (Dreams Deferred, 2010). According to the Immigration Policy Center, “Studies of undocumented immigrants who legalized their status through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 reveal that legal status brings fiscal, economic, and labor-market benefits to individual immigrants, their families, and U.S. society in general” (Dreams Deferred, 2010). The U.S. Department of Labor found that wages of these immigrants who received their legal status under IRCA increased their wages to 15% five years later. If given the opportunity, undocumented students will expand their education, get better jobs, and pay taxes. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a proposed federal legislation in the U.S. that will enact two major changes in current law. The DREAM Act will 1) “Permit certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply legal status and to eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military; and 2) Eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.” (DREAM Act: Summary, 2, 2010)The passage of the DREAM Act is critical to raise the quality of the U.S. workforce through higher education to maintain a strong economy. The DREAM Act will increase the number of undocumented immigrant students who attend college, it will benefit the nation’s economy, and the nation will save the high cost of ignoring these undocumented immigrant students.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a bipartisan legislation led by senators Richard Durbin, Chuck Hagel, and Richard Lugar, this bill will restore states’ rights to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students who live in that state in order to make it easier for students to afford a higher level education. The DREAM Act will also provide citizenship to the hardworking immigrant youth who was brought to the U.S. as children and who pursue a higher education or military service, allowing them to contribute to the American society (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2006). The bill has been introduced several times in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it has never been brought to a floor vote. In the senate it was brought to debate on October 24, 2007, but failed by a 52-44 vote. The DREAM Act was reintroduced on March 26, 2009 by Richard Durbin and Richard Lugar in the senate and in the House of Representatives by Howard Berman, Lincoln Diaz, and Lucille Roybal-Allard (DREAM Act: Summary, 2010). To qualify, a DREAM Act beneficiary would have to meet the following requirements: * Proof of having arrived to the U.S. at the age of 15 or younger. * Proof of residence in the U.S. for at least 5 consecutive years since the date of their arrival. * Must be between the age of 12 and 35 at the time of the enactment of the bill. * Have graduated from an American high school, or obtained a GED. * Display “Good Moral Character” defined as “the absence of significant criminal record or any major charge of drugs” by the National...
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