The Dream Act is one of those most controversial issues in the immigration debate.
With Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust recently endorsing the Dream Act, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to hear from some of the leading minds on both sides of the debate.
Some of you probably read the New York Times’ recent series on immigration “Remade in America.” If you haven’t, you should consider checking it out.
I’m going to point you toward a sidebar to the series: The editors’ running commentary that posted online.
In one of the discussions, the editors invited three immigration specialists to weigh in on the Dream Act, which many of you know would give some young illegal immigrants a chance to become permanent residents if they join the military or attend college.
You can read their full statements here. I'm including a boiled down version of what I found most interesting.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stronger immigration enforcement.
The issue is what to do about illegal aliens who were brought here as children and have grown up here. They made no decision to leave their native land and break another nation’s laws. And yet this may be the only country they’ve ever known.
Amnesty advocates use the predicament of such people (many of them adults at this point) to try to engineer a broad legalization of illegal immigrants. This, in fact, is the strategic purpose of bill, which would give amnesty to certain illegal immigrants brought here before age 16. Though its scope is not nearly as narrow as advocates would have you believe, it is nevertheless a targeted amnesty. But it is one designed to politically leverage the dilemma of the most sympathetic group of illegals into a more general amnesty.
A legislative package that might actually make sense would have a rigorous legalization process for longtime residents brought here illegally as children (unlike the Dream Act, which is so lax as to virtually guarantee massive fraud). To compensate for such an amnesty, and to ensure its finality, the package must also permanently end chain migration and turn off the magnet of jobs for illegal immigrants.
Tamar Jacoby is president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a federation of employers seeking an overhaul of immigration law.
…. Our fear and misplaced moralism are blinding us to our own interests.
Immigrants are assimilating, and we ought to reward them for it. The kids who would be covered under the Dream Act have mastered English. They’ve graduated from high school, often in families and neighborhoods where that’s difficult and discouraged. They’ve learned enough about America not just to fit in, but to succeed here. And many are willing to risk their lives for their new country.
But millions of newcomers, legal and illegal, are taking similar steps — although we do virtually nothing to help or encourage them. On the contrary, if they entered the country illegally — responding to our mixed signals, half-forbidding but half-inviting them to come do work we need done – we bar them from the very steps we say we want most from them: moving up the socioeconomic ladder and becoming fully participating members of society.