© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

End of DREAM Act Will Hurt US in Long Run

A couple of weeks ago the US House of Representative approved the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act. This past Saturday a minority of Senators used the threat of a filibuster to squash hopes of passage.

The DREAM Act would allow young immigrants brought into the country illegally before age 16 to stay, apply for permanent residence, and eventually for US citizenship. There'd be strict conditions. Beneficiaries would have to be younger than 30, have lived in the US 5-plus years, and have earned a GED or diploma. Then they'd have to pass several background checks and complete at least two years of college or military service.

Before the critical vote, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions denounced the Act as "a reward for illegal activities." Senator Lindsay Graham insisted we pass border security before moving the DREAM Act. This is called CUTTING OFF THE COUNTRY'S NOSE TO SPITE THE COUNTRY'S FACE.

The US Department of Defense strongly supports the DREAM Act. The offer of military service as a path to citizenship would have led tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of immigrants to enlist. With the US military stretched to the breaking point by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, top officials saw the DREAM Act as a key recruiting tool.

That Senator Graham would yelp about the need for US border security while undercutting the military's effort to reach its recruiting goals is just bizarre. Who else supports the DREAM Act? Why, it's the US Chamber of Commerce. Because Big Business knows that the immigrants who took the higher ed route to residency and citizenship would have meant billions in higher US tax revenues and improved US competitiveness in the global economy.

The US is now seeing a slight out-migration of educated talent headed for greener economic pastures in India, China and elsewhere. As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, if we can't keep the best and the brightest in the US, and attract more of them, all the next big business innovations will happen outside the US.

Unlike many of the young entrepreneurs now leaving the United States, the young people embraced by the DREAM Act are American in everything but name. Their talent, nurtured here, would have remained America's talent.

The military, the Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Bloomberg not exactly a Who's Who of liberal bleeding hearts. Most Americans support the DREAM Act too. Oh well. At least somebody -the nation's military and economic competitors, specifically - will be pleased.