Undocumented Youth Pin DREAMs on Congressional Action

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Every year, undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. along with their young children. These kids grow up in the U.S., speak English, and hang out with their friends just like other American kids. But unlike their classmates, they cannot join the military, work, or pursue their dreams because they don’t have legal status. Every year, roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, but many don’t apply for college, even when they’re at the top of their class, because they can’t afford it. These hard-working students are not eligible for loans or work study and must often pay high out-of-state or international tuition rates. They often live in fear of detection by immigration authorities. The DREAM Act—which would benefit these students as well as the U.S. economy—proposes to fix these problems, but not without the political will of Congress.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the “DREAM Act” (S. 729 and H.R. 1751), addresses the plight of young undocumented immigrants who, growing up in the United States, wish to go to college and obtain lawful employment. By providing a path to legal permanent status, the DREAM Act would create a needed incentive for students to stay in school, pursue higher education or join the military.

According to a new report by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), approximately 114,000 potential beneficiaries with at least an associate’s degree would be immediately eligible for conditional legal permanent resident (LPR) status. Another 612,000 potential beneficiaries would be immediately eligible for conditional status because they already have a high school diploma or GED and 934,000 children under 18 could be eligible for conditional LPR status in the future under the DREAM Act.

Experts report that the DREAM Act would have economic and social benefits for the U.S. According to a fact check by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), the DREAM Act would:

  • Provides an opportunity to raise individual wages and the resulting tax contributions. If legalized, these students would get a better education and better jobs and would earn more and pay more in taxes.
  • Allow legalized immigrants to invest in the U.S. economy. Removing the uncertainty of unauthorized status allows legalized immigrants to earn higher wages and move into higher-paying occupations, and also encourages them to invest more in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses.
  • Reduce the drop-out rate for immigrant students by creating a strong incentive for undocumented students to remain in school until graduation
  • Help universities by increasing school revenues as students who would not normally attend college start to pay tuition.
  • Aid military recruiting. According to West Point Professor Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, the DREAM Act “would be tremendously beneficial to the military. It gives the opportunity to enlist hundreds of thousands of high-quality people.”

On the legislative end, the DREAM Act has come up for a vote several times in past years and has garnered as many as 48 co-sponsors in the Senate and 152 in the House; it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee twice; and it received more than 50 votes as a stand-alone bill. Yet it has failed to become law. Some Members of Congress who support DREAM in principle have voted against it because they want to see it pass as part of a broader immigration reform effort and fear that passage of the DREAM Act alone would hamper the possibility of larger reform. For example, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)—then a Republican, now a Democrat—voted against the bill because he thought it would weaken the chances of CIR, not because he disagreed with the contents of the bill. According to a recent poll, the DREAM Act has garnered public support across party lines with as many as 70% of Americans favoring the DREAM Act.

Recently, many Republicans have come under fire for supporting any form of immigration “amnesty,” including the DREAM Act, and some former supporters have switched their positions. Earlier this May, five immigrants sat in the office of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and refused to leave, asking him to sponsor DREAM. In past years, Senator McCain was a co-sponsor for the DREAM Act, but became more conservative on immigration issues during his 2008 presidential campaign and continues to do so during his 2010 Senate campaign, where he is facing a primary challenge from the right.

michelle-waslinResearch has shown that the DREAM Act would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce. Moreover, the DREAM Act create an opportunity for many young people to get on the path to permanent legal status, improve their education, invest in themselves and their communities, and serve their country. But for the DREAM Act to pass, it would likely need the support of both the moderate Republicans who supported it in the past, as well as the Democrats who may be holding out hope for CIR.

Michele Waslin

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.


  1. Stephanie says

    I support the Dream Act. These undocumented students are learning and trying to become someone in the U.S. They want to become a part of the U.S. workforce and contribute to the U.S. economy. They want to be able to do things RIGHT! I honestly don’t see any problem with that!

  2. Gio says

    I am in favor of the Dream Act. This is a bill that would benefit millions of talented undocumented students by giving them the chance to get a higher education. Why try to stop them from doing so? This will not only benefit the students and their families but it will also benefit the country. In this, the Dream Act is the first step towards a more comprehensive immigration reform. Let’s not ignore the problem any longer.

  3. Susan says

    Dreamers are exactly the kind of people that we need more of in the United States: hardworking, talented, and community-minded. We cannot afford to lose them to other countries. Congress, pass the DREAM Act this year!

  4. cynthia Herrera says

    First I want to say that kids in this country are the future period. As long as kids( our future) keep getting neglected, there will be no progress(change) in this country.

    No matter what age and race, they are the ones who are going to make change. Many of these kids and teens know how to speak English, know the history, and have been here their whole life,

    the term “American Citizen” In my opinion has nothing to do with where you were born, its about weather you support the country’s culture, morals and believes. ( i could live in Russia for 10 years and still call myself an American for the simple reason that my thoughts and viewpoints are “American” )

    Someone who has been in the US their whole life and graduated in top of the class, wanting to continue their education should be enough proof that we not only want to better ourselves but the country as a whole.

    What other kids do you see actually fighting and pushing so they can go to college?, when most actually dread it,…. there is no way to get ALL immigrants out, better use us to you advantage :p
    As much as people hate to admit it, America would not be America without immigrants.

    Finally I want to say that EDUCATION SHOULD BE A HUMAN RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE. ….United we Stand :)

  5. Mathew says

    I support the DREAM Act 100%

    We need to end the hatred and let these deserving Humans the right to education and the right to live in the United states of America.
    We are not only the home of immigrants but once upon a time, we use to show the world that the United States stands for Fairness and Justice.

    Dream Act Will only better this country because it’ll give the 1.2 million students the opportunity to succeed and share their success with the rest of this nation.

    We cannot get rid of 11 billion undocumented immigrants, but we can give them the opportunity to achieve the American Dream and serve this country.

    • Ryder says

      Hi again (yes, I know you are the same person, writing under different account names)

      There is never an excuse for a disorderly immigration process. Ever.

      For you to say that all of the children of the world have a “right” to have their childhood education paid for by hard working Americans is somehow “fair” and “justice” shows just how bad a cancer this problem is.

      The cancer is basically theft. A belief that you have the right to the hard work and savings of others, to be taken by any means necessary.

      So this effort, based on the idea of theft… taking something for nothing, will somehow magically transform into “giving”… where these people, after stealing education resources, will then turn around and labor their entire lives to give it all back, and then some?


      The costs of education in Ca are staggering… 60 billion a year, MOST of that money goes to educating hispanic children (over 30B a year)

      And not only do they generally fail to give back, they simply consume more… taking huge sums for medicine, food, housing, etc. etc.

      No, the debt that hispanics have to America will never be paid back… not even close. The gangs the brought are costing us billions to fight, prisons are filling, people are being killed.

      And before you suggest that free educations will stop it… black Americans have been getting free educations for generations, and it has not helped in the slightest, and in fact may be making the problem worse.

      If free education made people into law-abiding, productive citizens, our prisons would be empty, and California wouldn’t be broke.

  6. Marco says

    Without a doubt, the DREAM Act is the fist step towards a comprehensive immigration reform. Progress comes in small steps and this definitely plays a big roll in improving our countries immigration debate.

    • Ryder says

      Bogus (and BTW, I know you are the same person, posting under many different accounts/names)

      There is no need for immigration reform. The immigration process is fine and works well.

      The problem is, is that people go around it, and don’t use the immigration system.

      Anyone that thinks that the immigration system needs reform is simply not paying attention.

  7. Brax Lopez says

    I just want to thank the author for taking time to write this article regarding the dream act the situation many undocumented students are going through .. i believe the Dream Act is a vital step towards an Immigration reform.

  8. isra says

    It is necessary to pass the DREAM Act this year, to protect those who are here to make a great contribution to society. Unfortunately America is loosing on a great opportunity to move forward. It is not because these students came to the States “illegally” that is hurting America, it’s because of the delay to keep these students in America “legally” that we are having hard times in all areas of society. WE need to pass the DREAM ACT this year in order to move forward.

  9. says

    I Support the DREAM Act

    Why not grant conditional residency to talented students?

    Why not grant conditional residency to student with no criminal background and good moral character.

    Why not grant the opportunity to another human being who wants to give back to this great nation.

    Why not?

    • Ryder says

      Because they should be giving back to Mexico?

      How smart do you have to be to realize that Mexicans bring Mexico to America… and as a lesser accomplishment (do YOU plan to move to Mexico? of course not), America looses in the deal.

      Already, the education system is gutted, broke, and under performing as it has fallen under the sheer weight of educating mexico’s children.

      Already, Mexicans have taken countless jobs from Engineers, technicians, machinists, heavy equipment operators, software designers… not because they are talented… but because they come in such huge numbers.

  10. David Morrison says

    I support the Dream Act

    Students who would benefit from the DREAM Act do not pose a threat to our community. Dreamers are by no means trying to take anything away from anyone. On the contrary, there are trying to give back to society and should be granted this wish. It is a greater cost to the United States to not let so many apt and willing students to continue their education and become beneficial members of society. The DREAM Act should be passed.

    • Ryder says


      Give me a break.

      Can you guarantee that when they vote, that they will vote first and foremost for what is best for America?

      If you can’t guarantee this, then how can you promise that they are not a threat?

  11. Daniel says

    11 million people cannot be deported and they will not leave no matter how tough it is as long as they are getting jobs. We need immigration reform, but since Congress doesn’t have the balls to act on it right now, let’s at least protect the children that grew up here, it just makes sense

  12. Jessica says

    I support the DREAM Act

    The U.S. has invested thousands of dollars on this kids already. It absolutely makes no sense to me that we throw all this money away just when they are about to begin paying it all back, specially in this economy. Leaving all anger towards illegal immigration aside I think this is the rational thing to do. If we really are that angry, we need to focus our efforts on the government so that they fix the broken system NOW and amnesties do not continue happening every 20 years. But it is definately not fair for us to throw away this investment as its about to cash in because we failed to fix this a long time ago.

  13. Aracely says

    Congress should consider the benefits of granting undocumented students a higher education. Most of these students have been in the United States for most of their lives and no other home. They should be granted their wish to give back to their communities. It would be a great benefit to not just these dreamers, but to the United States as well.

    • Ryder says

      Hi again (yes, I know you are the same person posting under different account names)

      You now spout about kids “their wish to give back to their communities.”

      Of course, you don’t know anything about their “wishes”. Even if some wanted to “give back” (as opposed to simply getting themselves ahead), could you tell me how they could even know if they ever gave back what they took? Can you find for me even a single student that knows what they have cost the citizens of California, let alone have a desire to give it all back somehow?

      Can you even prove that they care at all about “giving back”? Is there any evidence at all that ANY child that get’s a free education has a pronounced desire to pay back for the free education they received?

      Of course not. Most kids rather loathe school, and can’t wait to get the hell out of it… then wonder how they can get by as adults, never looking back.

      This flowery fantasy of yours, totally unsupported, is an amazing thing to watch. Total fairy tales.

  14. Robert Harris says

    It just makes economic sense to allow these bright minds into our society. What a waste of investment if we allow our xenophobic side take over. I refuse to let that be the downfall of America.

    We need bright minds, especially in tough economic minds like these!!

    Pass the DREAM Act!!!

    • Ryder says

      Well, I know you can’t be serious.

      Calling someone “bright” when there is nothing at all to indicate so… and when there is plenty of information to the contrary (hispanic children in ca schools are significantly under performing).

      You are just pure spin. No truth. Just spin. A political sloganeer.

      Canadians have a system to do what you *claim* to want. They don’t let you in, unless you prove in advance that you POSSESS a skill that Canada has determined in advance that it needs.

      But you don’t support Canada’s system, so I know you don’t believe what you say… not in the slightest.

  15. Ellie72 says

    I support the DREAM Act!

    These talented individuals just want to contribute (more) to their communities. However, they are not the only ones who will be benefiting from this, but America as a whole.
    When we have a lot of baby-boomers about to retired, we will need to fill those positions. These individuals are ready to work and to make this country a better country. I believe in them and I believe that they want to make this country a better one-Just like you and I.

    Please support the DREAM Act!

  16. Viri says

    Dreamers: they are children who were brought to this country, without an option. Many of them were brought as infants. This is their home. They are Americans. These Dreamers cherish the values this country was founded on. I don’t understand how people want to call these kids criminals? They have done absolutely nothing wrong. On the contrary, they work harder than many other students without anything in return. Many Dreamers graduate valedictorians, with honors and in the top 5%. Some make it to college despite the odds against them. All they are asking for is the opportunity to prove themselves to this country. They want the opportunity to give back to this country. An opportunity, that is all they are asking for.

    The immigration problem does exist but ignoring or diminishing it will not help. We have over 12million “undocumeted” people int his country. We need a plausible solution and the DREAM ACT is the first step.


    • Ryder says

      Actually, they are not Americans.

      Oh, sure, they are technically American citizens, but only because their mother managed to get her birth canal over a line on a map before a baby came out.

      That’s not how Americans are made.

      America is an idea, and to be American, you have to have some idea and admiration of that idea, and be DRAWN into it, with a passion to become part of it.

      Being born to a Mother that crossed a line does not do that.

      These are children illegitimately born into privilege, and as such, very few identify with America at all. They know they live here, but their hearts belong to Mexico.

      When they exit school, they will vote in the interests of Mexico, and to grant as many additional privileges to Mexicans as they possibly can. They will defend all positions taken by the Mexican government. What is best for America will be of lesser value.

      Of course there are the few exceptions, there always are. Some of those kids will come to understand America, love it first and foremost, but most won’t. And by a large margin. You can tell by the flags they carry when they protest in American streets. If your heart can’t be measured by the flag you hold in your hands, then how can you measure it at all?

      To paint this as just a case of kids wanting to get educated and work hard to keep retired white people comfortable in their old age is astoundingly naive and shallow.

      The immigration problem is CAUSED, 110%, by a failure to control the border.

      Everyone here knows it. It’s a tricky little thing called “root cause”.

      And yet so many people purposefully steer clear of addressing root cause, knowing full well that they do so, and knowing full well how subversive it is.

      If the entrance of millions of Mexicans is such a good thing, then why is California sliding over a cliff with each passing year? California is dieing. Poverty, corruption, gang violence, all on the rise… California’s education system has been converted into a Mexican children education system (yes, most children in Ca. schools… over 50%, are hispanic).

      California is going broke, her jobs are leaving. The next generation knows nearly nothing about America, and doesn’t much care to. They just want to know who to vote for in order to get the next round of hand-outs, and the downward spiral will continue.

  17. Marshall says

    I agree with those not in favor of the dream act. I have lived in several countries in both Asia and Europe. Even the ones leaning far to the left did not allow anyone to become a citizen. Sneaking into a country (Mexico) would get you years in jail. Only in America can illegal people march for legal rights. A few of the borders of the places I lived, shot people who did not mind the signs to go back and not enter. I lived where I could see tha bridge Gary Powers crossed from my apt door, east German police were there 24/7. I do not recommend that for our country, but I am for shooting armed illegals seen crossing our borders, they are real criminals.

    • Viri says

      Comparing ourselves to other countries is not a good idea for the simple fact that you are comparing us the the countries people are trying to escape.

      Are you saying that these 2.1million students, who are fighting for an education, are criminals?
      For many reasons, that does not make sense.
      These children did not decide to come to this country. They did not have a choice. And despite the odds agaisnt them, they are able to graduate in the top of their class, many are able to go to college and graduate with honors… Despite people like you who want to dehumanize and make them feel inferior, they are able to succeed ad accomplish a lot more than many “legal” children.

      What are you accusing these children of?

      • Ryder says

        I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be “fighting” for an education. And they can get educated in Mexico. That where Mexican children are supposed to get an education. How can you possibly be confused about that?

        Mexicans are supposed to be in Mexico, Americans are supposed to be in America.

        IF someone wishes to gain citizenship through ethical and legal means… legitimately joining another country, and they meet the requirements of that host country, then fantastic.

        What is it that you have against following the law, and basic respect for it?

    • Jose Dorador says

      You say you would shoot armed illegals? but what would you do to students?
      before you answer that think of this scenario. There is an undocumented engineer and a foreign engineer. Google can’t hire the undocumented engineer so they have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to sponsor the foreign engineer. When, if the DREAM act passes they could hire the undoc engineer (because he would now have documents) for almost no cost to the company.

      • Ryder says

        There is no such thing as “a student” There are only people. Some carry guns, some may go to school. Some may do both.

        But the fact that they might go to a school does not change the kind of person they are on a fundamental level. They are just people.

        “A student” describes a person’s undertaking… and is never a branding of who they are.

        And calling someone “undocumented” is an ugly lie.

        It would be like catching someone in your house, after having crawled in through a window, and have them explain that they were merely an undocumented resident.

        That is a pathetic view.

  18. Ryder says

    Of course the bottom line is that, had we controlled our borders as so many have been demanding for many decades now, this problem would not even exist in the first place (along with Mexican gang violence, school overcrowding, and a host of other problems).

    There is no excise for ANY nation to fail to have an orderly immigration process. The demand for a “fix” like the DREAM Act is only needed because of the root issue of an uncontrolled border and the disorderly immigration process that results.

    This is treating the symptom, not addressing root cause.

    Those at called for border control were obviously 100% correct.

    And of course they still are, unless you plan on having DREAM act DOS 20 years from now.

    • Viri says

      I agree that there is a problem with our immigration system. But ignoring the problem does not help us. Diminishing the magnitude of the problem does not help us either. There are over 2million children in the United States who need the Dream Act. Children who never asked to be brought to this country, children who despite the odds against them, try to succeed in this country, children who love this country and who do not know a home other then the US. Yes we must deal with the borders but we must also find a plausible solution for the millions of people who are honestly living in the US.

      • Ryder says

        I didn’t say there was a problem with the immigration system… can’t you read?

        I said there was no border control.

        Anyone that can’t tell the difference between having a secure border, verses a system of immigration would obviously not be able to tell the difference between Security on a college campus and the Admissions department.

        Two obviously different things.

        When you are bleeding, you stop the bleeding first.

        Border control is needed yesterday. AFTER the bleeding is stopped, secondary issues can be addressed.

        None of those kids *need* anything. There are kids in Mexico. Are the neighboring countries to mexico supposed to take care of the children of Mexico? Of course not.

        The previous amnesties were sold by you and people like you as the solution… but of course it never is, and wave after wave after wave of amnesty continues, and the problem is never solved. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. It applies here.

        That you don’t seem to understand how border control fundamentally differs from an immigration system probably automatically disqualifies you from really participating in a frank discussion on the topic.

    • Jose Dorador says

      The root issue is not the uncontrolled border. There are other things like NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, and IMF to blame for a lot of the reason immigrants come to the US.

      Other than that…

      I support the DREAM act because students had nothing to do with border policies or NAFTA or their parents decision to come here. They have lived in this country as if they were American and want to give to this nation, not take away.

      I support the DREAM Act.

      • Ryder says

        Of course you do. Your name is Jose.

        People that support it don’t have the interests of the Country or the wider population in mind.

        The REASONS why people come don’t matter.

        The basic reason is simple. The USA is worth coming to.

        But never for lawbreakers. They should never be rewarded for illegal acts, including granting privileges to their family members.

        The kids this article cries over, don’t need anything more than what Mexico has to offer them…

        Their parents need to be caught, fined, & sent home.

        Only when the border is secure, can an immigration process work. Never before.

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