The Orwellian Dream Act

Posted on December 10, 2010

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How can you knock the Dream Act? What kind of heartless soul would deny young, bright-eyed Latino kids–whose only mistake was to exit their mommies womb in another country–the chance to go to college in this country? Only a heartless bastard.

But is putting undocumented kids on the college path really the goal of the Dream Act? Dick Durbin didn’t think so when he helped craft the bill now winding its way through the legislative entrails of the Senate. This is how Dick Durbin writes about the Dream Act on his own website:

The DREAM Act: A Force Multiplier for the U.S. Armed Forces

The DREAM Act is a narrowly-tailored, bipartisan bill that would allow a select group of immigrant students with great potential to contribute more fully to America. The DREAM Act would give these students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children (15 or under), are long-term U.S. residents (continuous physical presence for five years), have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing. These young people were brought to the U.S. and should not be punished for their parents’ choices.

The DREAM Act would benefit the U.S. Armed Forces. The Defense Authorization bill is the appropriate vehicle for the DREAM Act because tens of thousands of highly-qualified, well-educated young people would enlist in the Armed Forces if the DREAM Act becomes law.

The Army says high school graduation “is the best single predictor of stick-to-it-iveness” that is required to succeed in the military. In recent years, the Army has been forced to accept more applicants who are high school dropouts, have low scores on the military’s aptitude test, and have criminal backgrounds. In contrast, DREAM Act recruits would be well-qualified high-school graduates with good moral character.

Many DREAM Act beneficiaries come from a community that is predisposed towards military service. The Rand Corporation found that “Hispanic youth are more likely than other groups to express a positive attitude toward the military” and “Hispanics consistently have higher retention and faster promotion speeds than their white counterparts.”

The Defense Department has expressed support for the DREAM Act since the Bush Administration. The Defense Department’s FY 2010-12 Strategic Plan includes the DREAM Act as a means of meeting the strategic goal of “shap[ing] and maintain[ing] a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.” In 2007, Bill Carr, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, said that the DREAM Act is “very appealing” because it would apply to the “cream of the crop” of students and be “good for readiness.” In 2006, then Undersecretary of Defense David Chu testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

There are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each year. … many of these young people may wish to join the military, and have the attributes needed — education, aptitude, fitness, and moral qualifications. … the DREAM Act would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform.Military experts also support the DREAM Act. LTC Margaret Stock, a professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said: “Passage of the DREAM Act would be highly beneficial to the United States military. The DREAM Act promises to enlarge dramatically the pool of highly qualified recruits for the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The DREAM Act includes important restrictions to prevent abuse. DREAM Act students would not be eligible for Pell grants, would be subject to tough criminal penalties for fraud, and would have limited ability to sponsor their family members for legal status.

The DREAM Act has broad bipartisan support. The DREAM Act has 40 cosponsors and is the only immigration reform legislation the Obama Administration has endorsed. In the 110th Congress, the DREAM Act received 52 votes, including 11 Republicans. According to a recent poll by Opinion Research Corporation, 70% of likely voters favor the DREAM Act, including 60% of Republicans.

The DREAM Act is supported by labor, business, education, civil rights and religious groups, including the AFL-CIO, the Anti-Defamation League, the National PTA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft and Pfizer, and dozens of colleges and universities.

Did you get that part in the middle? The part that actually denies the corner stone of college financial aid to students eligible for the Dream Act, the Pell Grant? So that the ten percent or so of undocumented kids who manage to escape all the pitfalls, and get accepted to college, won’t be able to pay for it except by joining the military first. Even Mini-Tru would have balked at calling this the DREAM Act. They would have called it the Better Than Getting Deported Act or the Imperial Mercenary Opportunity Act.

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For all the DREAM Act supporters who seem to be able to overlook the hideous repercussions of this legislation for our future military adventures, think about this: After our Middle East wars, just what do you think is going to happen. The US has had a foreign war, without fail, once every five years for over five decades. A fully stocked Spanish-speaking infantry with nowhere to go? Hmmm, yeah, I wonder where our next generation of occupations will be.

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