The Draconian DREAM Act

Even before it’s coming out party in 2009, the DREAM Act has been debated by good people with diametrically opposed opinions as to it’s merits.
According to the 2009 version of the senate bill, DREAM Act beneficiaries must:
1. Have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16.
2. Have proof of residence in the United States for a least five consecutive years since their date of arrival, compliance with Selective Service.
3. Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment.
4. Have graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED.
5. Be of “good moral character”
6. During the first six years, the immigrant would be granted “conditional” status, and would be required to graduate from a two-year community college or complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military. After the six year period, an immigrant who met at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status. During this six year conditional period, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, but they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.
7. If the immigrant did not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six year time period, their temporary residence would be revoked and they would be removable. They also must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years. Being convicted of a major crime, or drug-related infraction would automatically remove the six year temporary residence status and they would be subject to deportation.

If the immigrant met all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, they would be granted permanent residency, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens.

Many of my friends, who are committed to immigrant rights, feel this Act is better than nothing, providing opportunity where there is none.

I disagree and always have. This is a terrible act. Historically, the military has been a funnel for economically, educationally disadvantaged minorities, promising college and an income in exchange for the opportunity to use these desperate souls as cannon fodder.

To make a similar offer to immigrants is like promoting a sick game show, Die for Your Life-a game many of these immigrants have already played, just getting to America in the first place.

A few days ago, Democracy Now televised a discussion about this Act.
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/20/debate_is_dream_act_a_solution

I want to repost a statement made by Camilo Mejia, the first GI who served in Iraq to have publicly resisted the war and was imprisoned for refusing to go back for almost a year. He is the former chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War. A man, literally from the front lines, it best:

“My main problem with the DREAM Act is the military portion of it, which, in my opinion, is the main portion of the DREAM Act, because when you look at the 65,000 youth who graduate from high school every year in this country, you have to take into account that the vast majority of them are not going to have the English level required to gain access into a higher education institution. The military has an answer for that. The military has a language institute. The military can say, “If you don’t speak a word of English, you can join the military.”
The DREAM Act also does not allow undocumented youth, who have applied to the DREAM Act and who qualify for the DREAM Act, to get Pell Grants or to get any kind of federal-based scholarships—only loans and work study, which is not sufficient to cover tuition. The military has the Montgomery GI Bill. The military, through the National Guard and the Reserves, has tuition waivers.
The DREAM Act does not include anything along the lines of financial stability, anything along the lines of healthcare, anything along the lines of housing, whereas the military has all of these things that it’s in a position to offer to the vast majority of these 65,000 students who graduate every year, to say, “Come over here. We will teach you English. We will give you housing. We’ll give you a steady paycheck. We’ll give you all these things, if you serve in the military.”
The two-year option to serve in the military is also not a two-year option, because any military contract is eight years. No less than eight years. Whether it be a combination of two years of active service and eight years in the Reserves or four each or three and five, it doesn’t matter. It’s always eight years. And people are always subject to stop-loss.
On top of that, the DREAM Act does not grant residency. It grants conditional, temporary residency, which means that at any given point between the time that the person applies for the DREAM Act, there’s a period of six years when this person is not even eligible to apply for permanent residency and is subjected to be deported just like any other undocumented immigrant here.
In the case of people in the military, you have people going to Iraq or Afghanistan and coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder and getting into all kinds of trouble because they find a hard time to readjust to society. They get into drug-related problems, which is one of the offenses through which a person can be deported. Moral turpitude problems are very common with undocumented people, because this could be something as simple as using a fake ID or a fake Social Security number to be able to obtain work. So here you have the possibility of a person who is undocumented, graduates from high school in the United States, and does not have the ability to go to college, to be funneled into the military, serve in Iraq, come back possibly with amputations, possibly with post-traumatic stress disorder, come into the United States, not be a legal resident still, and commit a minor crime, a drug-related offense, forgery or whatever else that’s considered moral turpitude or a deportable violation, and after serving in Iraq, after having gone through all of that hell, come back here and still be deported. It gives the government the opportunity to take a pool of 65,000 kids who graduated high school in this country to send them into the military and, upon their return, still have the ability to very likely deport them. It’s a very draconian bill.”

My main problem with the DREAM Act is the military portion of it, which, in my opinion, is the main portion of the DREAM Act, because when you look at the 65,000 youth who graduate from high school every year in this country, you have to take into account that the vast majority of them are not going to have the English level required to gain access into a higher education institution. The military has an answer for that. The military has a language institute. The military can say, “If you don’t speak a word of English, you can join the military.”
The DREAM Act also does not allow undocumented youth, who have applied to the DREAM Act and who qualify for the DREAM Act, to get Pell Grants or to get any kind of federal-based scholarships—only loans and work study, which is not sufficient to cover tuition. The military has the Montgomery GI Bill. The military, through the National Guard and the Reserves, has tuition waivers.
The DREAM Act does not include anything along the lines of financial stability, anything along the lines of healthcare, anything along the lines of housing, whereas the military has all of these things that it’s in a position to offer to the vast majority of these 65,000 students who graduate every year, to say, “Come over here. We will teach you English. We will give you housing. We’ll give you a steady paycheck. We’ll give you all these things, if you serve in the military.”
The two-year option to serve in the military is also not a two-year option, because any military contract is eight years. No less than eight years. Whether it be a combination of two years of active service and eight years in the Reserves or four each or three and five, it doesn’t matter. It’s always eight years. And people are always subject to stop-loss.
On top of that, the DREAM Act does not grant residency. It grants conditional, temporary residency, which means that at any given point between the time that the person applies for the DREAM Act, there’s a period of six years when this person is not even eligible to apply for permanent residency and is subjected to be deported just like any other undocumented immigrant here.
In the case of people in the military, you have people going to Iraq or Afghanistan and coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder and getting into all kinds of trouble because they find a hard time to readjust to society. They get into drug-related problems, which is one of the offenses through which a person can be deported. Moral turpitude problems are very common with undocumented people, because this could be something as simple as using a fake ID or a fake Social Security number to be able to obtain work. So here you have the possibility of a person who is undocumented, graduates from high school in the United States, and does not have the ability to go to college, to be funneled into the military, serve in Iraq, come back possibly with amputations, possibly with post-traumatic stress disorder, come into the United States, not be a legal resident still, and commit a minor crime, a drug-related offense, forgery or whatever else that’s considered moral turpitude or a deportable violation, and after serving in Iraq, after having gone through all of that hell, come back here and still be deported. It gives the government the opportunity to take a pool of 65,000 kids who graduated high school in this country to send them into the military and, upon their return, still have the ability to very likely deport them. It’s a very draconian bill.

Published on August 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm  Comments (6)  

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