The DREAM Act is a pathway to success

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[media-credit name=”Carlos Magana, Staff” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]

The Issue:

Thousands of talented, young immigrants are foolishly deported despite being raised as Americans

Our Position:

The DREAM Act is needed to provide a pathway to citizenship for the immigrant children of America

 

Ayded Reyes has been the face of the Southwestern College women’s cross-country team. She may soon be the national face of an effort to welcome some of America’s best and brightest young men and women into the light of citizenship.

Children of undocumented workers live in the shadows. If discovered they face an uncertain future in an unfamiliar country, in a language and a culture they do not understand. A mockery is made of the American Dream.

California’s best community college cross-country runner was nearly deported last month for the crime of being carried across the border as an infant. Only dramatic 11th hour intervention by Congressman Bob Filner saved the 20-year-old honor student from being shipped off to a foreign country she has not been to in 19 years. Dumping Ayded Reyes in Mexico would be as cruel as dumping any of us in North Korea, Turkmenistan or Libya.

The American DREAM Act can change that.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a sensible idea that is misrepresented by the Limbaugh fringe and misunderstood by many Americans. It is not amnesty and it has nothing to do with anchor babies. It is a gateway for youth that have grown up as Americans to become educated and productive citizens of the United States.

There are two pipelines to obtain citizenship under the DREAM Act, college and the military. Applicants must serve honorably in the military for at least of two years or earn at least an Associate degree or its equivalent.

Students 12 years and older would be able to remain in this country if enrolled in primary or secondary school full-time. After high school they would become eligible to apply for Conditional Permanent Residency for six years. In order to qualify they must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and been present in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill. They must be graduates of a U.S. high school or a GED recipient, or accepted into an institute of higher education. Participants must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application.

Democrats and Republicans ought to love the DREAM Act. A 2010 UCLA study predicts the DREAM Act will legalize about 2.1 million undocumented youth and would pump $1.4 trillion into the American economy over the next 40 years (America’s total GNP is $14.5 trillion). In a classic bit of understatement the study concludes “this bill’s educational requirements have an underlying economic stimulus potential that has largely gone unnoticed by members of Congress.”

That is the most conservative study. Another study by UCLA researchers concluded that DREAM Act citizens would infuse $3.6 trillion into our economy over that time.

UCLA’s North American Integration and Development Center concludes the DREAM Act represents an opportunity for American taxpayers to significantly increase the return on our investment in K-12 students. It is legislation that would “advance the U.S. global competitive position in science, technology, medicine, education and many other endeavors.”

Reyes has been lucky so far. She is an attractive, articulate champion athlete whose case has generated national attention. ABC, ESPN, NBC, Univision, Telemundo and other print and broadcast media are lining up to tell her story. A U.S. Senator is interested in her case.

Other SWC students have not been so fortunate. Scores that we know of have been deported in the past two years and the total may run into the hundreds.

Liberals and conservatives ought to like the DREAM Act. It honors hard work, service, sacrifice and success. It could add new energy and vitality to our sagging economy and aging population. It is a chance to handpick the best and the brightest.

Race politics by the GOP right is the only plausible explanation as to why such a moderate, economically-sound bill that is solidly in the national interest should have so many senators and congressman acting so cowardly and dodging this legislation.

The Sun fully supports and defends these de facto Americans and the DREAM Act. It is time for these honorable and talented people to come out of the shadows and take their rightful place in American society. Too bad we cannot seem to muster up a majority of our federal elected officials with the courage to do the right thing and pass the DREAM Act. If only they had a sliver of the courage of Ayded Reyes.

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