Who should be able to participate in the American dream?

We are all aware of the growing problem of illegal immigration in the United States. This problem brings with it the question of who should be a part of the “American dream,” which involves starting at the bottom and, through hard work and perseverance, attaining success. A modern version of the American dream would entail going to college, getting on a career path and being able to comfortably retire.

In pursuit of this dream, a lot of people attend college while receiving a little help from the government in the form of student loans. However, the question has been raised as to whether or not students who were brought into this country illegally by their parents should be able to participate in such a dream and go on to higher education, with the help of government loans and assistance. The government is looking for an answer to the question of what should be done with non-tax paying illegal immigrants who seem to be flooding the job and education market. Should they be naturalized and given the same civil and educational rights as Americans? Or, should all illegal immigrants, including those who are not here on their own accord, simply be deported?

The “Dream Act,” a bill which was first introduced to the Senate in 2001, attempts to solve this problem. This bill has been re-introduced several times but has failed to earn legislative approval from 2001 to 2010. In May of 2011, a slightly modified version of the bill was reintroduced yet again. The Dream Act proposes that citizens brought to America illegally by their parents be granted citizenship and receive assistance under certain conditions. The individual seeking citizenship must be between the ages of 12 and 29 and have lived in the United States for five years or longer prior to the bill’s enactment. He must be of good moral character and have been enrolled in college or the armed forces for at least two years. Furthermore, his back taxes must be paid. The bill does allow for Pell grants and other educational financial aid to be administered to the children of illegal immigrants, but does not allow for in-state grants. However, the bill also allows individual schools to give these particular students in-state status. In simple terms the Dream Act says this: children of illegal immigrants are here illegally, but through no fault of their own, so why penalize them when they could become true contributors to our workforce and military?

In my own opinion, immigration reform is essential, but there are a lot of gray areas in the issue. I like the idea of the Dream Act. But, before we start taking on the issue of those who are currently here illegally, we should first prevent more people from entering the country illegally. First, let’s enforce our border security. Then we can worry about people who have already entered illegally. One of the stronger aspects of the bill is that, it does not make sense to penalize people for something over which they have no control. I believe that the parents of the young immigrants should be penalized, but not the children themselves. Another strong point is that as these people will now be legally accounted for; they too will be paying taxes just like all working Americans do. There is also potential growth for our military.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Dream Act, as well as immigration in general. Some people believe that it is wrong to give illegal immigrants the same rights as those of us who are here legally. But I would argue that we have had no more to do with being in the United States then the kids who were brought here illegally. Why then should we not allow them to become viable contributors to our workforce, military, and tax revenue? The “Dream Act” Appears to be a “win-win” proposal. The question now becomes: when will it win legislative approval?  

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