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Dream Act Passed by the House

Previously published Jun 2. 2021
Dream Act Passed by the House
Photo © 2009 Kris Price / SEIU

Previously published Jun 2. 2021

The Dream Act that the House of Representatives recently passed, 228 – 197, is a practical step towards immigration reform. However, even this limited act is unlikely to get passed in the Senate in these times of highly polarized politics.

 

Our country needs radical immigration reform both to address the question of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US and find a solution for the large number of foreigners who try to enter our borders illegally. It is estimated that America has over 11 million undocumented immigrants, some of whom are farm-workers and their families, and others who are “dreamers”—the children of immigrants who were brought into this country by their parents illegally but have stayed on to become a part of the American fabric. They are very much like other American citizens, except that they do not have legal status regarding their citizenship. What should the country do with such people? Driving them out of the country is an unthinkable option as this is the only home that these people have known all their lives. Yet, many Americans are scared about granting citizenship to these people.

 

Our fear of immigrants is not new. Many citizens believe that immigrants take away jobs, put a burden on social resources, and participate in criminal activities. What is less understood is that many immigrants also contribute to our society in terms of their work and the taxes they pay. America continues to be a beacon on the hill, attracting thousands of immigrants, mainly from Latin America, every year. As immigrants push to enter our borders, the plight of children separated from their parents, retained in cage-like conditions, is tough to witness.

 

The Dream Act that advocates granting citizenship to the 2.5 million Dreamers, and another 1.5 million undocumented farmers, is a tremendous practical first step in reforming our immigration system. Immigration reform supporting undocumented immigrants has been a partisan issue, with Democrats generally being pro-immigration and Republicans being anti-immigration. Support for farm-workers is also bipartisan to some extent, including Republican members of Congress whose constituents include large numbers of undocumented workers in their states. Not surprisingly, the recent act passed with a unanimous Democratic vote and garnered support from a handful of Republican lawmakers. Beyond these two measures, immigration reform continues to be a messy debate with very little common ground between radical political viewpoints.

As such, even this limited step of the Dream Act is unlikely to pass in the Senate. This is because of the highly charged political environment that we find ourselves in. Republicans are focused on winning a majority in both houses in the coming 2022 elections. Discrediting the president using the human tragedy unfolding currently on our southern border is one political weapon they want to use. The message to the American public is that immigrants are bad for society, and Biden is too soft on the border issue. Letting the Dream Act pass in the senate will show the Republicans as being soft on the immigration issue as well—a position that their political views will not allow them to take.

 

Sadly, the Dream Act is expected to die in the senate chamber as just another immigration reform act that raised false hope.


 

Sources

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/us/politics/biden-immigration-plan-bill.html?searchResultPosition=1

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/us/politics/biden-immigration.html?searchResultPosition=6

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Aneesh Raghavan, Website Manager

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