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.