Monday, January 25, 2010

Viewpoint: Reasons for the DREAM Act

Viewpoint: Reasons for the DREAM Act
By Jillian Sheridan

Daily Texan Editorial Board

Published: Thursday, September 24, 2009
Updated: Thursday, September 24, 2009
Yesterday, students here and across the nation rallied in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, a federal measure that would afford undocumented students in the U.S. a path to citizenship. If passed, the act will benefit undocumented students who have graduated from high school or received a GED, lived in the U.S. at least five years, entered the country before the age of 16, compiled no criminal record and demonstrated “good moral character.”

Under the DREAM Act, youths who meet these requirements would be granted conditional permanent residency, an already existing form of legal residency that would allow them to legally drive, work and have access to federal aid.
Conditional permanent residency is re-evaluated after six years, and during the six years, students would be required to obtain a minimum of a two-year college degree or complete two years of military service. At the end of the six years, their cases would be reviewed, and — if they completed the college or military requirements without a criminal record — they would be granted lawful permanent residency. They would then be eligible to pursue U.S. citizenship.

Undocumented youths in America currently have no means by which they can work toward U.S. citizenship. Those moved to the U.S. by their parents before the age of 16 are left to choose between a life of constant fear of government attention and returning to a country they hardly know in order to undergo a lengthy and tedious application for legal admittance to the U.S., which can be denied.

Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national nonprofit organization that aims to improve border security, denounce the DREAM Act as “amnesty for illegal aliens.” They claim the act would provide an incentive for additional undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S.

This rationale is inane. The numerous undocumented aliens who have entered the U.S. in the past have not done so out of anticipation of their children one day finding success under the DREAM Act, nor will the many underprivileged and persecuted people who will seek entrance to our country need it as an incentive tomorrow.

The act simply allows those who were brought here without a choice, have lived here, been brought up through our education system and have proven themselves to be decent citizens an opportunity to work toward becoming official contributors to our society as educated citizens or members of the military.

Texas, especially, has much to gain through the DREAM Act. With a large population of undocumented immigrants, Texas will benefit from an influx of degree-holding citizens able to legally enter the workforce.

There is no reason to deny those whose only crime was being carried across the border a route to the full benefits this country offers. Congress would be wise to provide this reasonable path for them to find their way out of America’s shadows and afford them the benefits and responsibilities of full citizenship.

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