California Gov. Jerry Brown recently passed the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which offers minors who have entered the United States illegally at age 15 or younger a chance at citizenship and federal grant scholarships provided they have shown interest in entering the country as students and are not felons.
I stand in full favor of the DREAM Act passing for the simple reason that I have yet to hear a single argument against it that outweighs the reasoning for passing it.
One of the most common yet baseless excuses for opposing the bill is the fiscal nature of it. America cannot afford to spend the $14.3 million which the Cal Grants are estimated to cost, especially in the current state of the economy.
In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan organization, analyzed and concluded that the DREAM Act would reduce the deficit by $2.2 billion in 10 years. In the same year, a study conducted by UCLA found that those granted citizenship by the bill would generate between $1.4 and $3.6 trillion of taxable income over the course of 40 years. The reality is America cannot afford to not pass this bill.
Further arguments against the DREAM Act claim that if we allow immigrants these grants, we reward and encourage further illegal behavior. These are children who were brought to the United States before they had a say in the circumstances of their lives.
To deny them hope and opportunities to improve their lives is punishment for an act they had no part in. Enabling them to work hard and earn the privilege that education provides is hardly “rewarding illegal behavior.”
There are university students who are worried about their own budget for school taking a hit as a result of new students enrolling in the system.
To them I say that universities rewarding scholarships to students in poor financial positions is not a new practice. These are kids whose parents have hardly any money to give them. They need these grants in order to pursue the worthwhile future that has been nearly denied to them.
Further aggressions that those against the DREAM Act suggest are that we should worry about our problems at home before we worry about immigration issues.
Elected officials are appointed for the reason, or at least the hope, that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. This is not an either/or proposition; other issues can be addressed simultaneously while not ignoring this matter.
Politicians go so far as to say that tax breaks for the wealthy are a more pressing matter than children trying to get an education.
Perhaps, if the right-wing showed as much concern about the next generation as they do for millionaires, they would realize that this is an investment in future leaders and thinkers.
The DREAM Act officially goes into effect on July 1, 2012 and like clockwork, a select group has chosen to rise up and claim that immigrants do not deserve to have the money to go to college.
It is selfish and downright morally reprehensible that we would deny a group of talented kids, which includes valedictorians and leaders of their class, the education and futures which many of us are privileged enough to have. Why deny students the opportunities they cannot afford when they live in the land of opportunity?
In truth, those opposed to the bill fear more the politics that surround it than they do the effects of the DREAM Act itself; effects which have been proven to make economic, practical and moral sense. This is one DREAM that deserves to live.
Julian Burrell, a sophomore communications major, is an associate editor for the Campus Times. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.