The DREAM act has been proposed and discussed many times over the past ten years, but despite support from many lawmakers, including President Obama, it has never passed. The law would allow children of undocumented immigrants to get on the path to legal status and citizenship by staying in school or serving in the military.
Recently, a number of legislators, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Charles Gonzales, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Robert Menendez met in Washington to discuss the issue. Rubio has been suggesting a modified version of the DREAM Act, one that would give children of undocumented immigrants a student visa and then a work visa. This would allow the students to live and work in the US but would be less controversial than paving the way for citizenship. There has been no formal proposal for the plan, but many lawmakers have been weighing in on the idea.
Currently, children of undocumented immigrants live in a type of legal limbo. They often arrive in the country as very young children, not understanding the immigration system. However, they still face a lifetime of undocumented status, which makes it hard for them to attend school and get jobs. Those who oppose any version of the DREAM act want to make sure that these US residents do not pay for their parents’ mistakes over a lifetime. Advocates of the legislation also point out that giving these students legal status could help boost the US workforce and possibly the economy.
Opponents of the DREAM act, however, claim that the legislation is tantamount to amnesty, giving legal status to those who break the law by entering or staying in the US illegally. They claim that the DREAM Act would set a dangerous precedent by giving people the impression that it is OK to immigrate to the US illegally and still not have to face the consequences. Some of the opponents of the DREAM Act accuse supporters of wanting to see the legislation passed only in order to have new voters.
The DREAM Act, however, blurs party lines. Both Democrats and Republicans have voted against and for the legislation. While both parties claim that they have the best interests of the US and of children in mind when they take their stance on the issue, there is a disparity of opinion about what is best for the country. There is little doubt that children of undocumented immigrants would be best served by getting legal status so that they can pursue careers and schooling, but whether this will take place is not certain.