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Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream Act) was a bill first introduced in the senate in 2001. The legislation would give conditional permanent residency to particular illegal aliens in USA provided they were found to be of good character. Eligible aliens included those who graduated from USA high schools, lived in USA continuously for five years prior to the enactment of the bill, and those who had arrived in USA as minors. Many versions of the Act, over the years, indicate different perceptions of the benefits and costs of the legislation. This paper will attempt to discuss the significance of Dream Act to immigrants and to the United States.
The Dream Act required that aliens complete four years in an institution of higher learning or at least two years in the military so that they could be granted six year temporary residency. Permanent residency would be granted if, within the six year period, they: completed at least two years in a degree program or in armed forces, or had been discharged honorably from the armed forces. As of 2010, aliens would be 29 years old and below. However, the legislation has undergone various changes in the course of the years. Different states had different versions of the Dream Act by November 2012. These versions vary in terms of financial aid and tuition prices for state universities. The states include Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and California.
Critics of the Dream Act argue that it would encourage illegal immigration and/or reward it. Others think that it invites fraud and shields gang members from deportation. However, with appropriate measures, the enactment of the bill would bring many economic and social benefits.
The Dream Act is a way of fighting discrimination in the United States. Many illegal immigrants, for instance, entered United States when they were young. Their parents may not have migrated legally and would not, therefore, have been registered. Expelling such illegal immigrants would be an act of discrimination. Therefore, the Dream Act is a kind of an amnesty program. In addition, many illegal immigrants find themselves in United States mainly because they are looking for better jobs, and are ready to meet various fair requirements to be allowed citizenry; it would be immoral to expel them. The Dream Act, however, would not allow immigrants be easily united with their relatives and friends. The Act would allow a long waiting period, 10 to 12 years, before applicants can sponsor green card applications for relatives and friends.
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Allowing immigrants to access grants and loans from financial institutions enables them to fund their education. This enhances the national literacy level and helps fight discrimination based on education level. As a result, the foundation for social mobility for all is laid. Private sponsorship has been allowed in several states such as Arizona. The sponsorship is for both legal and illegal state residents. Tuition subsidies enable immigrant students improve chances of completing their education in community colleges or complete two years of a degree program. These are some of the requirements for granting temporary residence status. Tuition subsidies are vital in allowing students focus on education as the expense of working full-time. Achieving higher learning enables immigrants to compete in the job market.
The Dream Act would prevent immigrants from being idle and thereby engaging in illegal activities. These activities include illegal drug use and trafficking, formation of criminal gangs, and prostitution, among other vices. Immigrants are given incentives for permanent resident status in United States. In addition, the Dream Act would outline criteria for deportation. The grounds for deportation are mainly criminal activities. To avoid deportation, both temporary and permanent residents would avoid engaging in activities that may lead to deportation. Conditional non-immigrants earn resident status after demonstrating understanding of history, form and principles of the United States government. The Dream Act is therefore an incentive to understand the laws of the United States.
The establishment of clear legal rules and procedures for eligibility for citizenship in United States helps fight the human trafficking vice. This is a vice that is often witnessed in other countries where laws on immigration and human trafficking are absent or not operational. They include Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In such countries, immigrants in search of good jobs often find themselves stuck there when they are forced to do domestic chores and have no money to pay for a ticket back to their home countries. In addition, their travelling documents are often confiscated, making it hard to escape from the slavery they find themselves in.
The Dream Act would enable United States have an expanded pool of military recruits. This comes in light of increased involvement by United States in international peace-keeping missions and anti-terrorism wars. In addition, armed forces are well paid, military recruits would have increased choices to leave the service and start businesses. These would not only create room for more recruitment but would implant a feeling of nationhood among immigrants.
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Millions of jobs would be created if the Dream Act was passed. This would be possible, considering the number of illegal immigrants who are willing to meet the qualifications for eligibility for permanent residency in the United States. Most immigrants enter the United States in search of greener pastures in form of well-paying jobs and increased opportunities for social mobility. If they are allowed to live to their fullest potential, they will help improve the economy through creation of jobs, contribution in form of taxes, production of more goods and services and increased demand for those goods and services.
The Dream Act would have social and economic benefits. It would reduce discrimination and allow immigrants to be granted citizenry through a rigorous process. It would also allow students to access loans and grants to fund their education. This would facilitate social mobility for all. The Dream Act would expand the pool of military recruits and implant a feeling of nationhood. The Dream Act would allow United States have increased economic growth through increased labor supply and market for goods and services.