The DREAM Act is an Amnesty, But So What?

September 15th, 2010 · 12 Comments

By Pablo Manriquez

POLITICO reports that Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) along with Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) will meet with President Obama on Thursday at 2:30PM “to request his support for the new legislation and the immigrant-student bill, known as the DREAM Act.”

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (or “DREAM Act”) is an amnesty for unauthorized immigrant students of “good moral character” who arrived in the U.S. as minors and have graduated from US high schools and have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. The bill allows for an estimated 65,000 unauthorized immigrants who graduate from American high schools each year to go to college, get jobs, serve in our nation’s military, and compete in the American economy. The DREAM Act is an amnesty and, according to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), “it represents a dual assault on law-abiding, taxpaying American citizens and legal immigrants.” In short, Rep. Smith concludes, “The DREAM Act is a nightmare for the American people.”

Why? Well, Senator David Bruce Vitter (R-LA) is “opposed to [the DREAM Act]…because it would unfairly place American citizens in direct competition with illegal aliens” in the college admissions process. Indeed, according to Sen. Vitter, “enactment of the Dream Act would do just this, and it would be bad policy under any circumstances, but in the current economic climate, it would be a catastrophe.”

If competition is a nightmarish catastrophe for the American people, then we are already living it. Regrettably, somehow, Rep. Smith and Sen. Vitter have failed to notice that as the world becomes more interconnected, the best and brightest in the U.S. now find themselves competing with counterparts all over the world. The DREAM Act allows for some of the best and brightest within the U.S. to get in the game where they would otherwise be sidelined for the sins of their parents. Many of those who qualify for the provisions of the DREAM Act came to the U.S. with their parents when they were to young to decide for themselves whether or not stay abroad and maintain a legal status in a foreign country. For many their “homelands” are just that, a foreign country, as they have lived and now seek to thrive in the only place they’ve ever called home: our United States.

The DREAM Act is an amnesty, sure, but it is also an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate that we are better than punishing youngsters for the sins of their parents. It is also an opportunity for American citizens to reject the absurd, impossible, anti-competition isolationism championed by Sen. Vitter and Rep. Smith. Finally, it is an opportunity for a small, elite group of unauthorized immigrant all-stars to actively contribute to our American society, and augment our global competitiveness, as citizens.

Ironically, as I write Barack Obama’s Back-to-School speech is at the top of my Facebook newsfeed with the caption:

“If all of our students work hard and focus on education, if you keep fighting for your dreams and help each other reach each other’s dreams, then you’re not only going to succeed this year—you’re going to succeed for the rest of your lives. And that means America will succeed in the 21st century.”

Let’s hope President Obama keeps that in mind tomorrow when he meets with our Latino lawmakers.

Webmaster note: This footage is from today, where Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nydia Velazquez and Sen. Menendez speaking about moving the DREAM Act forward.

Tags: Barack Obama · Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Economics · Education · Immigration · Rep. Luis Gutierrez · Rep. Nydia Velazquez · Sen. Robert Menendez

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 john // Sep 16, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Great entry… thank you.

  • 2 Pablo // Sep 16, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Wow. That video is sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Latinos in one place on Capitol Hill.

  • 3 Pablo // Sep 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    No prob, John!

  • 4 Anna // Sep 16, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Re: “Senator David Bruce Vitter (R-LA) is “opposed to [the DREAM Act]…”

    He should go change his dirty diapers.

  • 5 DerailAmnestydotcom // Sep 17, 2010 at 10:43 am

    You are misrepresenting the DREAM Act. It is not “an opportunity for a small, elite group of unauthorized immigrant all-stars to actively contribute to our American society.”

    The proposed legislation also extends legal residency to the academically mediocre. The DREAM Act does not obligate the illegal alien beneficiary to have a record of quality grades, attend a four year institution, obtain a college degree or even have a high school diploma under his belt (a GED is acceptable under proposed legislation).

    The bottom line: Tens of thousands of illegal aliens with little academic promise would be handed legal residency in the U.S. For those who have demonstrated scholastic ability, they are not even required to complete university level studies.

  • 6 IE // Sep 18, 2010 at 5:21 am

    To DerailAmnestydotcom!

    Does it really matter if the individual attends an Elite University or starts at a Community College?

    The fact of the matter is that if the students abide by the DREAM Act standards, they will have a set amount of time to complete “A College” education.

    I graduated high school with barely a 2.0., however, spent 5 years in the NAVY and learned the value of an education there.

    After the NAVY, I started at Community College, then attended the # 3 Public University for my BA, and now attend another Top Public University for a Graduate degree.

    Does that make me any less of a U.S. Citizen?

    The DREAM Act standards are set.

    1. Complete College in 6 years (Any College)
    2. Serve in the Military (Something most Americans are afraid to do)
    3. Stay out of trouble with the law.

    Pretty straight forward to me. Stop being so afraid of people that are trying to work hard within the confines of the system that has been imposed on them.

  • 7 Pablo // Sep 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm


    Thank you for your remarks! I gotta tell you, though, I’m for the DREAM Act anyway.

  • 8 DerailAmnestydotcom // Sep 19, 2010 at 10:18 am


    The answer to your question: No, not really, b/c we shouldn’t be handing out amnesties regardless of what type of academic promise an illegal alien has shown. As we learned in ’86, amnesties sure don’t stop illegal immigration. They just result in more.

    The point I was making, however, is that it is inaccurate to describe the DREAM Act as aimed at benefitting an “elite group of immigrant all-stars.” That’s simply a misrepresentation. The DREAM Act would encompass tens of thousands each year, the majority of whom are illegal aliens who have a record of average, mediocre and even poor scholastic achievement.


    That doesn’t surprise me. You probably felt pretty strongly about the issue to have written about it in the first place.

    Nonetheless, that doesn’t give you license to knowingly misrepresent who the beneficiaries of the DREAM Act would be. I’ll give you points for having the integrity to call it what it is – an amnesty. However, when you suggest/imply that it is tailored for the high academic achievers, that’s false. It is not strictly a pathway for those who enjoy honor roll status, have immersed themselves in AP courses, or have acceptances letters from Michigan, Vanderbilt and Williams … and you know it.

  • 9 Anna // Sep 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Re: “As we learned in ’86, amnesties sure don’t stop illegal immigration. They just result in more”

    The amnesty in 1986 was never meant to stop illegal immigration. Immigration, legal and illegal, depends on the needs of the economy. NAFTA pushed Mexicans off of their land and into the US economy, which was the goal of NAFTA. The only reason they aren’t allowed to immigrate legally is because they have brown skin. If their skin were a few shades lighter, they would be welcomed with open arms like the Cubans.

    I support the Dream Act, and so what if every child is not on the honor roll. This is a human rights issue now. You don’t deport a child who has lived here his whole life. That’s immoral.

  • 10 IE // Sep 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @DerailAmnestydotcom: “The DREAM Act would encompass tens of thousands each year, the majority of whom are illegal aliens who have a record of average, mediocre and even poor scholastic achievement.”

    Well then, all the underachievers might have the courage to earn their Citizenship by perhaps enlisting into the United States Military.

    Especially, since our military nowadays has had a difficulty getting U.S. Citizens to join our “all volunteer” military.

    Regardless, I’m sure you’re probably of the mindset that we should roundup 11-20 million people, load them on busses, and take them back to the border. Because that’s the “rational” thing to do. Right?

  • 11 DerailAmnestydotcom // Sep 21, 2010 at 6:27 am

    @Anna You’re mistaken. More U.S. green cards are handed out to Mexican nationals each year than to people from any other country (and that number includes India and China, which have much larger populations than Mexico). In fact, the majority of legal immigrants entering the U.S. are non-Caucasians … and it’s been that way for years.

    Congratulations. Race-baiting is such a wonderful substitute for a substantive argument.

    @IE You’re right. That’s my mindset. Like the majority of American voters, I believe that immigration and employment laws should be enforced, and that it’s a mistake to reward systematic and ongoing violators of American laws with legal residency.

  • 12 Mike // Oct 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I must say it was a very tough debate yesterday between these two, personally I believe both are bringing some good things to the table. Just a couple of things I wanted to point out (Meg Whitman) really seems like a very powerful candidate, but I Am afraid that she seems a little bit like (Arnold schwarzenegger) and that did not bring much of a change to California. We can take a look at (Jerry Brown) and it seems that he is a very funny & energetic individual yet I was still not impressed with his plan. When he was being ask about his previous performance it seemed like all he was doing was making excuses for what he did not accomplish.
    Mike-Sprinkler Guy’s Thoughts

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