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Dream Act

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).

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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, andRichard 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 Council of La Raza (The ‘DREAM Act’ and the ‘American Dream Act, 1, 2007). The student must have accomplished one of the following within six year after the permanent residence was granted: * Earn a degree from a 2 or 4 year institution, or have maintained a “good standing” for at least two years at a 2 or 4 year institution while working toward a bachelor’s degree or higher (The ‘DREAM Act’ and the ‘American Dream Act, 2007). * Served in the U. S. Armed Forces for at least 2 years. Without the DREAM Act the U. S. faces critical financial and emotional costs.After years of hard work and achieving success in high school every student in America expects a reward. 65,000 undocumented students currently living in America expect these rewards as well. They were raised the American way. According to the National Council of La Raza, the American way is to “offer equal opportunities to all and encourage all to make the most of their talents” (The ‘DREAM Act’ and the ‘American Dream Act, 2, 2007). As young children, these students were brought to this nation by their parents; it was beyond their control to stay in their native land.Brenda Garcia states, her family faced monetary problems while living in Mexico, the only solution to their problem was to come to the United States, she had no say so in this decision and was forced to follow her parents and leave her country (2010). These students have shared all the American values and traditions; they see this country as their home. These students grew up pledging allegiance to the United States of America, and now the United States of America can’t give its loyalists the opportunity for citizenship and a more affordable higher level education.Current law punishes these students for a decision they did not make and for their lack of documentation. America has imposed insuperable obstacles for these students and crushed their hopes of exceeding in their education, as a result “only 5 to 10 percent of undocumented young people who graduate from high school go on to college” (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2, 2006) either because schools deny them admission, they are charged out-of state tuition which is much more than the in-state tuition rate, they are not eligible for financial aid, and cannot work legally in the United States.The discouragement is too much and most of these hard working, and goal oriented undocumented students with high academic standing don’t get to live their American dream. With the passage of the DREAM Act these student’s dreams could be attainable and as a result more students could attend college, exceed in their education, and contribute to the United States economy. The DREAM Act will “facilitate access to college for immigrant students in the U.S. by restoring states’ rights to offer in-state tuition to immigrant students residing in their state,” states the National Council of La Raza (The ‘DREAM Act’ and the ‘American Dream Act, 1, 2007). Many states argue that the schools will not have revenue if undocumented students are charged only in-state tuition, but who said in-state tuition meant free tuition? “In-state tuition is not the same as free tuition.It is a discount,” claims the National Immigration Law Center (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2, 2006) if the discount is provided, more undocumented students will attend an institution of higher level education and the money paid by these students will increase school revenues by far because it will be money that would otherwise not be there, and even then, after all, education pays for itself, claims the National Immigration Law Center (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 3, 2006).The United States’ economic future depends on its current students, documented and undocumented. If given the opportunity, through the DREAM Act, undocumented students will expand their education and raise the schools revenues; they will get better jobs in which they will help out the U. S. society by curing the ill, sharing their knowledge with young people, designing new buildings for the community, and opening new businesses, etc.The National Immigration Law Center claims that “As baby boomers age, the number of retirees in the U. S. swell (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2, 2006) and that’s why in the future the U. S. will need new proficient people to take over those jobs. These young immigrants can be the future professionals the U. S. will need, they are “key to our ability to counteract the serious demographic challenges we face” (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2, 2006).We as a nation must “raise the caliber of our workforce through higher education to have a chance to maintain a strong economy” (Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students, 2, 2006). Additionally each person who attends college and obtains a professional job means one less expense to the state in terms of social service, as well, an asset in terms of tax payments to the state. The nation cannot burden these motivated and high achieving immigrant youth; after all they will only benefit the nation in the future.Undocumented students who don’t have the opportunity to get the best out of their education are simply wasted talent, a new report from the Immigration Policy Center by Roberto Gonzalez, Wasted Talent and Broken Dreams: The Lost Potential of Undocumented Students, makes it clear that “without means to legalize their status, these children are seldom able to go on to college, cannot work legally in the United States, and therefore cannot put their educations to good use” (Dreams Deferred, 1, 2010).The United States has invested in the education of these undocumented students since they were in pre-kinder all the way through their high school education. If the United States cuts their education short by not gathering the full potential of these children’s’ education it will face an enormous cost because there will be no benefits for the nation. In the future these tudents will not give back to the nation, and that will be a result of waste talent, wasted money, and lost potential. Why not let these students contribute back to the country that gave them so much? The American way is to be fair and offer equal opportunities to all and encourage everyone to make the best out of their talents, America, now is the time to live up to your American way. Don’t punish these undocumented students for a decision that they did not make.These students are your children, they are Americans, they are friends, classmates, outstanding students, they are family. There is a significant cost in denying these children their college education. Don’t crush their American Dream. “This wasted talent imposes financial and emotional costs not only on undocumented students themselves, but on the U. S. economy and U. S. society as a whole” (Dreams Deferred, 1, 2010).