The Dream Act
The Dream Act is a proposal that
has had several failures in terms of endorsement by the Congress. Despite its
importance, it faces both significant criticism and support. This is because of
several factors such as democracy, which includes aspects like federalism and
social pluralism. Moreover, various institutions like the Congress and courts
are influential in the matter. Other extra-constitutional entities such as the
media also play a role in the issue. In conclusion, this act is beneficial to
both the undocumented immigrants and the nation and as such needs consideration
beyond the political and social boundaries.
The Dream Act
The Dream Act refers to an American bill that seeks to address the plight of foreign children in terms of education, development and food-related aid. According to the recommendations in this policy, young immigrants who completed their high school education in America and had no criminal records would acquire citizenship in the country. However, these individuals had to have lived in USA since their infancy. Moreover, youngsters who served in the military for two years or in a post-secondary educational institution for four years would benefit from a six-year habitation (Madera, 2008).
While on this temporary citizenship program, these individuals would have the right to seek a permanent habitation in America by obtaining an educational degree from any institution of higher learning within the country, or serve in the military for an additional two years. By the end of 2012, various states had agreed to this bill by formulating different laws that concur with the state’s governance. Legislative members from all political parties, including the Republicans and Democrats, formulated this policy with the main aim of allowing foreign immigrants in their formative years to contribute to the nation’s development process.
However, this law has experienced significant support and criticism from members of different segments, both in the public and private sectors. Enthusiasts of this policy argue that awarding residency to these minors is both morally and legally right, as America is the only place they have called home since their early years (Madera, 2008). They also argue that this policy will improve the country’s economy and security. On the other hand, critics believe that this will increase illegal immigration in America, in addition to hindering expatriation of criminals to their original countries.
Richard Durbin first introduced the Dream Act in Congress in 2009 under the companion bill and had several versions with none of them attaining the required support. It sought to offer learning chances within the legal framework to illegitimate immigrants within the age of 35 years and below. The law demanded that the beneficiaries should have lived in America before attaining 16 years. In addition, they had to have lived in USA continuously for more than five years since the time of the law’s endorsement. It also recommended the financial departments of various states to provide grants to such individuals in institutions of higher learning, as opposed to the current law (Durbin & Congressional Digest Corporation, 2010).
These illegal immigrants would also have the advantage of joining work-study programs, free child-care services and student bursaries. The catholic catechism is influential on this bill because of its teachings and support of fair treatment on immigrants. According to this religion, the relevant departments in the government ought to receive all immigrants warmly as a way of demonstrating humanity. Because of the different financial status of various nations, the economically stable ones should accommodate more immigrants into their system and treat them as citizens.
In support of this proposal, the catholic religious conviction, through the association of American bishops, argues that these youngsters should have an opportunity of legal and permanent residency by gaining military or educational experience. According to the clergy, the beneficiaries of this suggestion would give talented and intelligent children, who only knew America as their habitat, a gateway to a bright future. Moreover, they argue that these youngsters should not suffer for their guardians’ crimes (Durbin & Congressional Digest Corporation, 2010). These bishops have sent their views to Congress on various occasions in an attempt to convince the policy-makers to enact this bill.
Various analysts have illustrated the importance of this bill to the young immigrants as well as the entire nation. According to them, this proposal is more beneficial to the country than to the immigrants. To start with, the military would have a qualified workforce because of the moral and educational qualifications exhibited by these immigrants. It would also earn the country good proceeds since catering for these immigrants would be one of the country’s investment projects. It would also help a large number of young people acquire post-secondary education hence reducing the cases of school dropouts.
Various features of the democratic regime in America affect the Dream Act. One such aspect is federalism. In USA, the states’ authority is inferior to that of the national government. For this reason, the office of the president, as well as the Congress determines the endorsement of policies. For instance, members of the Democratic National Convention provide more support to the bill, as opposed to the Republican Party. This support concurs with President Obama’s stand (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2009). Moreover, the state governments have insignificant influence on this issue since the Congress is responsible for endorsement of such bills.
Social pluralism also has a role to play in the backing of this proposed bill. The acceptance of various religious and ethnic communities in America is responsible for the major support of this bill. In the ancient years, America suffered from racism and the recovery from this position has influenced a number of policies. For example, most of these illegal immigrants are of African or Asian ancestry. As a result, American citizens of these descents support this act in order to benefit these individuals. Citizens from other lineages support this bill to avoid implications of racism.
Various institutions are influential in the Dream Act. One such institution is the Legislative arm of government. One of the Congress’ mandates is to formulate policies that govern the country. However, this bill has divided this body into groups with different opinions. Members of various political parties have different views on the matter. For example, most democrats are in support of this proposal while republicans oppose it. This corresponds to the stand of the current president who is a democrat. The division has resulted in various failures in endorsement of this bill.
The bill has been in this policy-making branch of government for several years. Despite its supporters’ attempt to amend it by formulating various versions, many legislators opposed to the Act have constantly voted against it. Furthermore, states regarded as democratic strongholds have a large support for the proposal because of the campaigns by various congress representatives. On the other hand, several republicans in the Congress have been campaigning for the public’s disapproval of the act especially in the states that support the Republic Party. These facts illustrate the influence of the Congress on the enactment of this recommendation.
The courts also have an influential role in the ratification of this proposal. This is because of its mandate of providing appropriate verdicts concerning various issues. For example, in 2008, the Supreme Court of California dismissed a proposed review of the in-state tuition law. This law demands that immigrants who have attended and graduated in California high schools for three years should pay the same fee as the state’s citizens. With the dissatisfaction of this ruling, certain representatives of the young immigrants went to the state’s Court of Appeal, which revoked the earlier decision (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2009).
On the other hand, the Martinez Court ruled that the in-state tuition policy violated the federal law with regard to habitation. According to this verdict, the federal rule does not provide such benefits to illegal immigrants unless the same conditions are accessible to American citizens of other states (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2009). The different stands of various courts in America have complicated the enactment of this act. The matter is unstable in terms of its rationalism because of the conflicting rulings in various courts. It is, therefore, crucial to detail the act in a way that concurs with the policies in various states in order to prevent such legal contradictions.
The church is one of the extra-constitutional entities that affect the Dream Act. This is especially the catholic religious conviction that has been campaigning for the endorsement of this bill. The followers of this religion believe that the American government ought to provide habitation to young undocumented migrants as a way of exhibiting humanity. They argue that economically stable countries should help the less privileged, especially those around them. The influence of religion on the public is responsible for a large portion of the citizen’s approval of this proposal.
The act has also experienced significant media scrutiny. Although the media has acted as a platform upon which the public gains knowledge on the Dream Act, certain details conveyed are myths. For example, some section of the media has alleged that endorsement of this bill will give all immigrants an equal chance to acquire a green card. Moreover, they claim that this is against the requirements of the immigration reform process. According to them, providing habitation to these undocumented minors will encourage illegal immigration in the country thus increasing criminal activities in various states (Eakle & Brinkerhoff, 2001).
Other myths spread by the media include speculations that this bill hinders deportation of criminals to their original countries. It also claims that provision of educational opportunities to these immigrants will lower the chances needed by American students. These baseless allegations have negatively affected the enactment process of this legal proposal. Because of the influence of the media on the public, a significant percentage of the American citizens disapprove this bill. For this reason, the media needs to recognize their power and utilize it for the benefit of the nation by providing substantial facts on such critical issues, as opposed to speculations.
Other interested groups have also led to the failure in endorsement of this bill. These groups are both in the public and private sectors (Eakle & Brinkerhoff, 2001). The individuals in these divisions have used certain myths related to the issue as a way of gaining the public’s support in disapproving this act. The citizen’s ignorance has seen most people campaign against this bill on both the streets and the media. Since the policy makers are required to formulate laws that represent the voters’ interests, some legislators have discouraged the sanction of the Act.
In conclusion, the Dream Act is beneficial to the nation and the undocumented immigrants. The members of the Legislative arm of government should therefore, consider its approval as a way of developing the country. This proposal will not only improve the country’s financial sector but also the security and educational subdivisions. The act’s version of 2013 is detailed and easy for all citizens to comprehend. They should therefore, overrule the myths spread by the media and other interested groups and instead understand the recommendations in the act.
Durbin, R., Sessions, J., & Congressional Digest Corporation. (2010). The DREAM Act: Immigrant access to higher education – should Congress pass the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act? Bethesda, MD: Congressional Digest Corp.
Eakle, A. H., & Brinkerhoff, L. E. (2001). American migration. Tremonton, UT: The Genealogical Institute.
Madera, G. (2008). Underground undergrads: UCLA undocumented immigrant students speak out. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education.
Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2009). Understanding social problems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.