The DREAM Act

They say that, in politics, if no one’s happy, you’ve found a solution and I guess that that’s how I feel about the DREAM Act.

On the one hand, it seems clear to me that you just can’t treat a kid whose parents sneaked him here when he was a child the same way you treat a person who sneaks himself.  It’s too broad a brush you’re painting with if, to you, those seem like the same problem.

And so, if someone’s been in this country since she was little, is a productive member of society, and considers herself to be an American, why shouldn’t we give these kids a way to do that?

So, yeah, I support the DREAM Act. (Warning: PDF)

I have reservations, though.  In order to qualify, you have to have completed two years towards a bachelor’s degree or two years of military service.  My reservation about the two years of college requirement is that college is expensive and, it seems to me, this language might mean that two years at a community college (which are more affordable) wouldn’t count (though I’d be happy to have some clarification from Dean Dad or immigration folks).  I also find it a tad disingenuous that we want our immigrants to have or be working towards bachelors’ degrees when only 1 in 4 Americans has one. (No, really, check the Census data.)  But, in general, I support education and I support having a way to bring these kids into legal status, so okay.

I find the two years of military service more dicy.  It seems to me immoral that, in the middle of a highly unpopular war in which the military is having a great deal of trouble getting U.S. citizens to enlist, that we would bribe non-citizens to do what our citizens will not*.  If we weren’t at war, I’d have less of a problem with this provision, but it seems to me that folks’ unwillingness to enlist is as clear a sign as there can be that the war is one the American people would rather not fight, seeing as they are refusing to fight it.  That’s an important message for our politicians and that their solution is to just find other folks to fight it shows that they don’t understand the message they’re being sent.

But it seems to me that we shouldn’t stand in the way of the DREAM Act just because it has that one giant pothole.  Instead, we should do all we can to make sure that these kids go to college and flourish there.

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*America, I’m going to admit to you my biggest fear.  It’s a little liberal paranoid crazy-talk, so if that stuff pisses you off, you should stop reading.  But here it is.  My biggest fear is not that we’ll invade Iran–though lord knows that would be breathtakingly stupid–but that we’re attempting to provoke Iran into attacking us.  Think of it.  If there were an attack on U.S. soil by a country, who would be opposed to invading that country?  No one.  And wouldn’t that solve our enlistment problems?  It’s one thing to sit out a war you don’t really get, but everyone gets “Jackasses attack us; we must wipe jackasses off the planet.”  I do think our President is … I don’t know, really, motivated by factors we’re not privy to because he doesn’t really understand how democracy and the Constitution work. But every day I hope against hope that he will steer us on a reasonable course through the rest of his presidency.

10 thoughts on “The DREAM Act

  1. Hah. I wondered when you would don that big assed foil hat of yours. You know, i used to think Americans would step to the plate in record numbers if this country was attacked. I’m not nearly as sure now. Part of the reason, I think, is that we are quite casual about citizenship. The only thing you need to do is be granted citizenship is be born here. Thats it. You don’t have to earn it. In fact, you can never exercise your rights as a citizen and still keep it.

    Personally, as someone who watched my parents suffer through the process, I find it deplorable that so many take their citizenship for granted. Anyway, I too support the DREAM act, with the same reservations with respect to military service.

  2. It seems to me immoral that, in the middle of a highly unpopular war in which the military is having a great deal of trouble getting U.S. citizens to enlist, that we would bribe non-citizens to do what our citizens will not*

    It’s not as though there’s any type of historical precedent for this at all.

    American concerns over Irish immigration soon took a back seat to the tremendous issue of slavery which was about to rip the young nation apart. For Irish Americans, the turning point of their early years in the U.S. would be the American Civil War. Over 140,000 enlisted in the Union army while others in the South enrolled in the Confederate ranks. Irish units, including the all-Irish 69th New York Regiment, participated in the monumental battles at Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, earning a reputation for dependability and bravery.

  3. My biggest fear is not that we’ll invade Iran–though lord knows that would be breathtakingly stupid–but that we’re attempting to provoke Iran into attacking us. Think of it. If there were an attack on U.S. soil by a country, who would be opposed to invading that country?

    Iran is not about to do that. for that matter, Iran can’t do that; they don’t have the logistics and military ability to send forces to fight on U.S. soil.

    at most they could try to do what the state department is always accusing them of doing, provide training and funds to freelance terrorists with the understanding that the U.S. will be a target. but that’s chancy, because freelance terrorists aren’t exactly the most reliable or disciplined bunch. maybe there wouldn’t be a big enough difference between that and an honest-to-goodness attack, or maybe there would.

    the chances of a false flag operation being blamed on Iran is something i don’t like to think about. the current U.S. administration is not the only entity that might believe it had something to gain by such a damnfool idiotic project, and several of the other candidates don’t have to ever worry about getting reelected.

    Mack, i find your consternation somewhat confusing. i can’t think of a single country that demands their natural born citizens do anything to earn their citizenship. candidates for naturalization, frequently, but not natural-borns.

    occasionally there will be services described as “duties of citizenship” — such as conscripted military duty — and arguably they are just that, but only in a sense. if you should refuse to perform such a duty, the punishment will not normally (ever?) be revocation of your citizenship. i know of no country that uses such revocation as a routine measure against natural-born citizens, not for failing to perform any act or service at least.

    (for accepting citizenship elsewhere, yes, on occasion. but imposed and forcible statelessness is not something routine, as far as i know.)

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, B.

    I printed out the pdf — thanks for the link! I’ve seen the DREAM act referenced about a gajillion times, but had never actually read the thing.

    The details are a little less bad than your summary suggested. On page 11, “The Alien” is required to have either completed a degree (it doesn’t specify what kind of degree) at an institution of higher education, OR to have completed two years towards a bachelor’s degree. By my reading, an Associate’s degree from a community college would fulfill the ‘completed a degree’ requirement.

    (That also establishes the presumption that cc’s would be allowed to admit illegal aliens as students. I’d like to do that, but we haven’t been allowed to so far.)

    The two-years-of-military-service is an alternative.

    So by my reading, someone could go to a cc, get an Associate’s degree, shun the military, and be fine. It’s still not perfect in any number of ways, but that particular path isn’t so bad.

  5. Unless things have changed a lot while I wasn’t looking, no proof of citizenship is required to attend CUNY. Which means that if this passes you will be seeing a lot of legalizations in NYC, which is kind of cool.

  6. Sounds about right to me.

    My worry is actually with §3303(c)(1): “IN GENERAL – An alien shall be considered to have failed to maintain continuous physical presence in the United States under subsection (a) if the alien has departed from the United States for any period in excess of 90 days or for any periods in the aggregate exceeding 180 days.” It does allow extensions in this period for “serious illness of the alien, or death or serious illness of a parent, grandparent, sibling or child,” but that’s it.

    Oh, it’s an understandable provision, sort of… it’s just going to wind up exempting a lot of people. Rather significant chunks of my high school peers disappeared regularly for months at a time because they had to go back to Mexico (or another country, but mostly Mexico) to help harvest. Or they got called back to the Philippines for something and then wound up having to stay there for months because of the fighting. (No provision is allowed for “sorry, they’re bombing us right now and the planes aren’t flying.”)

    And if you, say, aren’t aware of the limitations on this, you might go off to visit for a month at a time every year or so (what with the age cutoff being 16 going forward and 30 at instatement) and find yourself out of citizenship without even meaning to do it.

  7. the physical presence clause actually seems copied verbatim out of the current immigration and naturalization sections; us green card holders have to abide by those same standards, unless i’m badly misinformed.

  8. Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised. Like I said, it’s pretty understandable, if not the way I personally would have it. I was just pointing out that there are going to be a significant number of people exempted on the basis of this alone, and that while it is reasonable if thought about in chunks, it loses some of that reasonability as a cumulative thing over a significant number of years.

  9. you will not get citizenship, only a conditional green card leading to a regular green card. then you will have to take the regular path to earn citizenship.

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