Time to Make this DREAM a Reality

by Secretary Hilda Solis on December 1, 2010 · 4 comments

Early in my career, I worked as a student advisor and higher education recruitment counselor.  Many of the young people I worked with were undocumented, including a college-bound young man whose academic achievements and dedication to hard work made him a model student in everyone’s eyes. He gave everything his all, and today he’s an environmental scientist. He has a rewarding, interesting and good-paying job.  And he is making his own unique contribution to our country and the world.

He understood what a privilege it is to live in a country that allowed him to get a good education.  That’s precisely why he chose to give back through public service.  It’s his way of showing his profound gratitude.

I think about him every time I talk about the DREAM Act–legislation designed to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents, by giving them the chance to either obtain legal status by pursuing a higher education, or by serving in the U.S. armed forces.

The DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support. It passed twice out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was included in the 2006 comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, with the support of 11 Republicans currently serving. In 2007, despite the support of 12 Republicans, including 7 currently in the Senate, a standalone version of the DREAM Act fell just 8 votes shy from the 60-votes needed to be debated.

There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. It’s time to act. Now.

The President has long been a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, and was a co-sponsor when he was in the Senate.  I was an enthusiastic supporter when I served in Congress.  As Labor Secretary (often called “America’s Job Counselor”) I see important economic reasons to pass it.  The Dream Act eliminates the barriers to higher education that often result in high drop out rates, which cost taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars a year.  It provides powerful incentives to stay in school . . . and to graduate.  Bottom line: workers with more education fare much better than workers with less.

But I’m not the only member of the Cabinet who supports the Dream Act.  My colleagues do too, for good reasons:

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates has cited the rich precedent of non-citizens serving in the U.S. military;
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan believes the DREAM Act will play an important part in the nation’s efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020; and
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has stated that passing the DREAM Act would free up resources so that DHS can dedicate enforcement efforts to detaining and deporting criminals and those who pose a threat to our country.

In short: the DREAM Act would strengthen our economy and our work force.  It would strengthen our national defense and our national security.  It’s time to make this dream a reality.

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1 Anonymous December 2, 2010 at 2:01 am

The DREAM act has two parts to its appeal:
1. A basic commitment to fairness and decency — for these kids, the USA is the home in their hearts. They speak our language without an accent, are embedded within our culture, etc. To throw them out or to make them live in the shadows feels wrong — no matter how much we might disapprove of what their parents did by breaking our laws. Mistreating them would be like mistreating the living and playing child of a rapist — rape is a heinous crime (far worse than crossing a border in search of a job) but we understand that to hold it against the child goes beyond the pale.

2. A feeling of national self-interest. Kids raised in the USA are quite likely very easy to integrate within our population and already have a visceral loyalty and attachment to our country. If they also have talent and drive, we would be fools to not “add their distinctiveness to our own” and assimilate them fully.

I think that the remaining controversy around the DREAM act could be largely blunted if we took some steps to bring those who agree with the second part of our appeal on board. This could be done by adding “hurdles” that would be very easy for any kid who grew up here to pass but would publicly demonstrate the loyalty and integration of these kids. We make lawful immigrants take a citizenship test and oath when they want to become citizens, so why not make these kids take a pretty stringent test (written and oral), a public spoken loyalty oath, and demand a record of serious public service and volunteering from those who don’t serve in the military. Kids who want to go to college already do these things and could pass such tests easily, but having them would likely satisfy all but the most hard-core racist opponents that this is a good thing. For the kinds of promising young kids that we are talking about, this would not be any burden at all.

2 Matt Clemens December 2, 2010 at 3:31 am

“The Dream Act eliminates the barriers to higher education that often result in high drop out rates, which cost taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars a year.”

No it doesnt. Poor parenting, lack of cutural assimilation, and an unwillingness to take advantage of the opportunities already present are why there is a high number of drop-outs. Smaller class sizes and less demand for new schools would save billions of dollars a year. A feat that can be achieved if the borders were secure and the American Taxpayers did not have to educate the tsunami of illegals and their children. Competition for admission into college is already high and you’re effectivly telling the American students that they must compete with lawbreakers just so you can feel good about yourself at your next minority leaders luncheon. The parents of these kids knew what they were doing when they broke into this country, and they knew the consequences for their children. If these kids want someone to blame for their plight then they need look no further than mom and dad, not the American Taxpayer.

The unemployment rate is staggering, as the Secretary of the US Labor Department perhaps you should focus on American citizens and getting them back to work before you start handing out green cards and making it that much harder for Americans seeking employment. Shame on you. American citizens have dreams too, you seem intent on trading our dreams for theirs.

3 pjagadeesan December 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

migrant workers safety must and should available tension is not required at working spot to guid personnal instruction on safety about travelling family tension these all cautions guiding offices smallscale industries etc

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