Economic Prosperity and National Security Through the DREAM Act

Cross-posted from The Hill

Even in tough times, Americans have used their freedom, common sense and respect for one another to do the right thing for the nation. Today, we face one of those times. There are thousands of hard-working, patriotic, young people who are leaders in their communities and who are looking for an opportunity to attend college or serve our country in the military, but they cannot, through no fault of their own. Congress has the opportunity to offer them and our country a brighter future by coming together in a bipartisan way to pass the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act will open the doors of higher education and military service to young people who were brought to America without documentation by their parents when they were children. If they are able to meet several requirements, they will have the chance to earn a legal status. Specifically, they will have to prove that they came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived here for at least five years, don’t have a criminal record, are not removable or inadmissible from the country, are of good moral character and graduated from a U.S. high school, obtained a GED, or have been admitted to an institution of higher education. Today, these students are living in fear of the next step of their lives, and attending college or other postsecondary education is difficult, while serving our country in the military is near impossible.

Passing the DREAM Act will unleash the full potential of young people who live out values that all Americans cherish — a strong work ethic; service to others; and a deep loyalty to our country. It will also strengthen our military, bolster our global economic competitiveness and increase our educational standing in the world.

By opening the American Dream of college for these bright, talented youth, we will unleash an academic force into the U.S. higher-education system. The result will be a new generation of college graduates who will help strengthen our economic security. This new generation will be a new set of future taxpayers who will contribute much more as college graduates than they ever would as struggling workers moving from one under-the-table job to another. They will help build the economy of the 21st century.

From a national security perspective, the DREAM Act will give the military the opportunity to recruit students who are eager to serve at a time when there’s a growing shortage of potential soldiers. The Defense Department’s strategic plan names the passage of the DREAM Act as one of its goals to help maintain a mission-ready all-volunteer force. Military leaders understand that at this critical time in our history, when we face countless threats to our way of life and the supply of soldiers does not match the demands being placed on our armed forces, a new pool of highly qualified candidates willing to put their lives on the line for America is a major plus for the country.

The students who will benefit from the DREAM Act are some of our country’s best and brightest. They were raised and educated in America. They include community leaders and volunteers who are committed to service in their neighborhoods. They are valedictorians and star athletes. They text and go to the mall. They are Americans in every sense of the word. They have deep roots here and are loyal to the country that has been the only home they’ve ever known. They want to serve our country and hope to become pediatricians, teachers and engineers. They are exactly the type of young people America should be embracing.

But, unlike their classmates, DREAM Act students are in a bind. It goes against the basic American sense of fairness to punish children for the choices of their parents. But thousands of young people find themselves in that position. We can’t let them continue to live unfulfilled lives of fear and squandered hopes. We must rise above the heated political rhetoric and embrace this common-sense approach. And we need to do it now before we lose this generation. It’s who we are as Americans, at our best.

Secretary Arne Duncan

9 Comments

  1. There are many problems and as many have stated the bill has its cons and pros. The problem is in the state and national government, if the government supported education as much as everyone thinks it does schools would be better of. When it comes to the state government it seems to look the other way or water down any bill, just check out the drop out rate,grades,statistics etc… in order to look at a bill such as the dream act people must get involved and informed on where,why and how the government is spending all the time and money. Furthermore, only by having the general public actively involved in voting in quantities can anything actually be resolved. Immigrants like it always has been are scapegoats to the current problems as it is easier to blame. Before we look at a bill or start to blame anyone we must first look at the government, the power is in the people, but of this moment there are a few elite running America who bought there way up. I repeat, the bill has its pros and cons, but over all it causes more controversy than it does resolve. Now in my opinion if the bill passes or not it would hardly be a dent to the average American as everyone in America pays taxes, it would be just another flux in the economy that would be forgotten.

  2. There are many problems and as many have stated the bill has its cons and pros. The problem is in the state and national government, if the government supported education as much as everyone thinks it does schools would be better of. When it comes to the state government it seems to look the other way or water down any bill, just check out the drop out rate,grades,statistics etc… in order to look at a bill such as the dream act people must get involved and informed on where,why and how the government is spending all the time and money. Furthermore, only by having the general public actively involved in voting in quantities can anything actually be resolved. Immigrants like it always has been are scapegoats to the current problems as it is easier to blame. Before we look at a bill or start to blame anyone we must first look at the government, the power is in the people, but of this moment there are a few elite running America who bought there way up. I repeat, the bill has its pros and cons, but over all it causes more controversy than it does resolve. Now in my opinion if the bill passes or not it would hardly be a dent to the average American as everyone in America pays taxes, it would be just another flux in the economy that would be forgotten.

  3. Arne, it doesn’t matter how you paint this picture, the majority of Americans are not going to go for it. I’m trying to figure the agenda for this movement, because it really doesn’t make sense for the government to throw its weight so completely behind this… insisting that American citizens fund, with their tax dollars, the education of people here ILLEGALLY. (Really, why the big interest? Aren’t there other causes you could get behind that would bolster the American citizen at such desperate times as this? In case you haven’t noticed, education in America is failing, and riding a bus around the country will not fix that!) But, the military aspect may be the key here, if you have a great influx of soldiers who are “beholding” to the army because they have been allowed to gain citizenship here, and at the same time, they are “employed” and well taken care of… they don’t have any “real” ties to this country.. they would pretty much do whatever they were told. When “BIG” government tries to take our remaining freedoms away, having a “special” military force in place would be advantageous.

  4. The Dream Act is nothing but political posturing, and a transparent attempt to bolster the voting roles of the Democratic Party. The ONLY part of this act that has any merit is granting a path to citizenship to those illegal residents who serve honorably in “their” countries military. ….and, yes, America is a land of opportunity for those who come here LEGALLY. We are not, and have never been, a country that supports giving citizenship and welfare to anyone who manages to start living here illegaly – either as an adult or child of that adult.

  5. This is just a cover up to make Congress feel like they are actually doing something about immigration reform. Fix the real problem which are our immigration laws. Don’t mask it with this feel good political garbage that is the DREAM Act. I am not saying these kids shouldn’t be treated like American Citizens. I am saying fix the immigration laws so that they are or can become citizens and we don’t need to have yet another useless bill that gives incentives for more illegals to come to this country.

    The use of the threat of bringing back the military draft, which this act has in it, is typical political fear tactics to get people on board with it. The idea that you join the military to become a citizen sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Congress if you want to keep a volunteer army, change your foreign policy so that we don’t police the world through our military and end up in two “wars” like we are now.

  6. We do need to pass the DREAM act. These young people deserve the same opportunities that American young people get. They are just as American as I am the only difference is that their parents reside here illegally. I am in close contact with multiple individuals that the passing of this legislation would change the course of their lives.
    I am very taken aback at the fact that many of the people who oppose of this bill claim that we need to take care of the true Americans first and that they would be taking the college spots that true Americans deserve. America is famous for being the land of opportunity, I would hope that this means opportunity for all and not just people that happen to be born here. Being an American citizen is a privilege, it does not make you more deserving than everyone else. These young people deserve a chance just as much as anyone else, and it is limiting America by limiting them.

    PS: Jerry, the all caps is quite annoying

  7. DREAM WOULD NOT STRENGTHEN ANYTHING AS OF NOW!INSTEAD OF PASSING ANOTHER USELESS BILL, LETS TAKE CARE OF OUR STRUGGLING WORK FORCE NOW, GET EVERYONE BACK ON THEIR FEET AND GET OUR NATION BACK WHERE IT BELONGS ..AT THE TOP.. LETS NOT KEEP GOING BACKWARDS. POLITICIANS THINK THEY KNOW EVERYTHING, BUT YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO OUR WORKERS AND ECONOMY. COME LIVE AMONG US FOR A CHANGE AND YOU WILL REALIZE YOU NEED TO PUT ” OUR CITIZENS FIRST ” GET A CLUE

  8. 1. The post wants us to choose between passing the DA and having “struggling workers moving from one under-the-table job to another.” Isn’t that a false choice? Surely, the DOE must have enough smart people that they could come up with at least a third choice for us. For instance, some sort of repatriation program. That way those *foreign citizens* could help build up their own countries and we’d stop braindraining and hollowing out Mexico and other countries. Is it that the DOE isn’t smart enough to come up with such a plan, or are they just trying to mislead?

    2. The WaPo recently reported “the College of Southern Nevada last fall turned away 5,000 students who sought classes that were filled” and had other statistics about how many American citizens are unable to attend community college. Instead of concentrating on that, the DOE would make the situation for American citizens even worse by increasing the competition for scarce college slots.

    The DOE needs to understand that those it’s advocating for are *foreign citizens*. That doesn’t mean they should be abused, but the DOE needs to put American citizens first instead of helping *foreign citizens* at the expense of American citizens.

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