Immigration & Justice National Politics

Sad Awakening: The Defeat of the Dream Act


What with the fire and other distractions,
I’m late in talking about this. But it’s been bothering me for the past few days, so I’m going to bring it up now:

Americans are not thinking clearly on immigration. If they were, they would have urged their representatives to pass The Dream Act, which instead failed to get the needed 60 votes in the Senate this past Tuesday.

The Dream Act, if you’ll remember, is the bill that, if it had passed would have given certain students brought here illegally as children an opportunity at citizenship—if they go to college or into the military. As the Dallas Star-Telegram reported it, “Roberto Gonzales, a researcher with the University of California, Irvine, estimates that the DREAM Act “would provide 360,000 undocumented high school graduates with a legal means to work, and could provide incentives for another 715,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 17 to finish high school and pursue post-secondary education.”

Opponents claimed, with nothing resembling proof to back them up,
that the plan would provide amnesty for parents and adult siblings and would be rife with fraud. Contras also blasted it as a “reward” for illegality, and a way that undocumented immigrants could “cut in line ahead of law abiding immigrants”…blah, blah, blah.

So instead of giving the approximately 1 million, seventy-five thousand kids
an opportunity to better themselves, become tax-payers, serve in the army and, in general, make the country fiscally and sociologically healthier, we keep them at the fringes. How clever of us!

Look, these kids didn’t choose to come to this country,
and the fact is, they aren’t going any where. So, even from a selfish viewpoint, you’d think we’d figure out that the smart money would be on finding a way to help/motivate/allow these kids and adolescents—who, like it or not, are permanent fixtures in our Amercan landscape—to become productive citizens.

But no. Out of all the genuine problems facing this country (like, say, global warming, poverty, terrorism, the lack of comprehensive health care, a screwed-up public education system), “no amnesty” is the one whacked out principle that, by God, we will go to the wall to defend.

(As Bill Maher put it the other night,
he wonders if one day, ten or 20 years from now, after the polar ice caps have turned entirely to mud, and the Middle East is in ashes, Lou Dobbs will suddenly sit up, slap his forehead and shriek, “Oh, my God! I focused my entire career on…THAT????”)

And by the way,
the split on the issue isn’t entirely a conservative/liberal one. Not all Democrats voted for it, as Blogfather Marc Cooper, points out in an excellent post on the matter.

And not all Republicans voted against it. Prominent among those conservatives who had a supremely sensible take was Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. As the Dallas-Star Telegram reports, she said the legislation would take young people out of a “limbo” not of their making. “We need to do it in a way that helps assimilate these young people with a college education…”

Right you are, Kay Bailey!

Here’s how the Chicago Sun-Times summed things up in an editorial:

The Senate wasted an opportunity to make America stronger. They had already failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year, and this could have made up a bit for their colossal mistake by crafting a win-win: Illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military would get to stay legally, and we would get soldiers and educated taxpayers.

But that’s not what happened. Worse, the debate turned ugly. Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado called on immigration officials to raid a news conference Tuesday where Durbin featured students who would benefit from the act. Luckily, someone was thinking over at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they refused to send agents. As it turns out, the students at the news conference have temporary legal status. Durbin said the immigration debate has reached a “low point in America.”

Yep. The Dream Act would have made us stronger. But we blew it.


  • As is often the case, the devil was in the details, as I understand it. It would have given the same rights to kids who entered the country illegally at 16 as 6, so many felt the cutoff was just too high. That this late age could encourage a family to come in with a high school sophomore (who’d be too difficult to assimilate into our language and culture in a year, anyway), and who could then eventually sponsor the whole family as a “backdoor” around the immigration procedures. Plus that it gave students 6 years to complete a community college, and until age 30 to do so. Others on the left didn’t like the requirement to perform military duty (was that a prerequisite before or after college? I’d have to check the measure). Details, details.

    The poster kids for the measure were some very bright, straight A-types who were fluent in English, and typically entered as young kids. But by broadening it, as you note, to over a million kids and families, it just became too broad. Maybe they can try again with a more finely-honed measure.

  • Maggie, It’s my understanding, that Kay Bailey Hutchison was fully prepared to broker some tweaks of the bill in some of those areas you mention, it passed through the Senate. But alas it did not.

  • These days it seems everybody has a blog, below is a link to a blog, written by a college student who is the person the Dream Act would benefit. He provides his insight and personal perspective to the Dream Act. The name of his blog is “American Wetback” which pretty much sums up his situation.

    And Bill Maher rocks, he educates and entertains. I enjoy watching Bill Maher on HBO rather than ABC, because we now see the uncensored Bill.

    Here is a video by George Carlin on global warming and mother earth, it gives a broader perspective on the issue. I’m sure “intelligent” humans and their recent technology advancements will mange to kill most of mankind. Humans were probably meant to die young and live in huts or caves so as not to affect the balance of nature.

  • Another important component to any immigration bill will have to address securing the border and deporting convicted criminals. This is a big issue which many people want addressed.

  • I don’t think that we owe everyone whatever that they want, and I’m tired of debating it. If there is a problem, blame the parents and let them accept the consequences to their families. I wanted a trust fund to get me through life, but my Dad didn’t give me one. I guess that’s my tough luck. Make the parents go home and come back legally. That’s the right thing for America and the right way for their kids.

  • The illegal kids in CA can go to college in CA today, it just costs them the same as kids from MT.

  • Pokey incorrectly states …..
    The illegal kids in CA can go to college in CA today, it just costs them the same as kids from MT.

    Read about Assembly Bill 540 (A.B. 540), the immigrant kids of California with three years in California high schools pay California resident tuition fees. I guess no “conservatives” bother to read the links posted by the “liberals”. Read a personal story about AB 540 which I posted before.

  • Thanks L.A Resident –

    Pokey Stands Corrected – Only Montana (or other out of state) kids have to pay the full state tuition. Illegal kids get in for less.

  • Another item most “gringos” are not aware of is the Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). If you don’t a have a social security number and want to pay your fare share of taxes to the IRS, the IRS will accommodate you with an ITIN. There are many immigrants who have credit cards, bank accounts and purchased a home all without a social security number. So the federal government has been accommodating millions of people in the “shadows”. The IRS does not refuse the tax money paid by someone working with a fake social security number, and will even process the tax returns. What ????

  • The IRS will process employer payroll tax returns…and, promptly kick out exception reports, for things like incorrect S/S#’s, that they send to the employers. There can be penalties. If people use false S/S#’s to provide to employers or any other use, they are committing a crime.

    On individual taxes, the IRS is charged with collecting taxes from U.S. income, without regard to whether or not the people paying are legal citizens. So?

  • “There are many immigrants who have credit cards, bank accounts and purchased a home all without a social security number. So the federal government has been accommodating millions of people in the “shadows”.”

    In what way do these people live in the shadows?

    The situation that became the givewaway known as the DREAM Act is actually a private matter between parents who wanted the illegal life for their families and their children who now are in a hard situation. Clearly, the parents hoped they could game the system forever and reap an amnesty, such as the one in 1986. Life turned out to be different.

    Now these parents need to return to their home nations and help their “dreamie” kids acculturate to the only place in which they have a right to reside.

  • “In the shadows”…to put it SIMPLY is when u dont even have a God dmn i.d.! can u just REMOTELY imagine HOW IS TO LIVE LIKE THAT?…i guess not! ignorance is the mother of all NEGATIVE and st(u)pid racist feelings.
    Imnot even going into the laughable MYTH they say about my people getting “free medical and other services”…TRY IT without a valid California I.D. and the come and vomit here all ur racist s(h)it…
    Enough is ENOUGH.WE CONTRIBUTE AND PAY TAXES to the State as well as federal…we should AT LEAST have the right to bear a legal i.d. and driver LICENSE.hellooo? its NOT A GIFT!…its VERY CLOSE to a EARNED RIGHT!…and the “catch” that anti-inmigration extremists groups and politicians dont tell u…is ALL OF THE BACKFIRE IMPACT AND CONSECUENCES for EVERYBODY..yes thats right that includes YOU, This racist dumb attitude IS HAVING and keep up that crap..and its going to HIT U BACK ugly and in the face…

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