A welcome test of DREAM Act

A welcome test of DREAM Act

August 19th, 2012 in Opinion Times

Democrats and some Republicans have tried for 11 years to pass the DREAM Act, and the majority of Republicans have wrongly rejected it at every turn for harsh political theater. They are acting even worse now by mischaracterizing and lambasting President Obama's attempt, by executive order, to show how humane the DREAM Act would be through a two-year trial program.

The DREAM Act -- an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors -- is as American as apple pie. It would allow selected, young, resident immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children to apply for citizenship if they are younger than 35, and meet a number of strict, documentable conditions.

They would have to have lived in the United States for at least five years before the act was passed, and show good moral character, success in school and/or the military, and have no criminal record. If they qualify on those grounds, they could earn a subsequent six-year period in which to qualify for permanent legal residency by obtaining a higher education degree or by serving at least two years in the military, and earning an honorable discharge.

In short, the DREAM Act would allow the nation to sift the cream of young people brought here when they were young and raised as Americans. That would substantially benefit both this nation and deserving young people who have shown they will be productive workers and good Americans. Given the nation's aging demographics and need for successful, deserving, high-achieving immigrants, their inclusion would be a bargain, which is why Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch co-sponsored the bipartisan bill with Sen. Richard Durbin when it was introduced in 2001.

Regrettably, Republicans -- including Sen. Bob Corker, who knows better -- twice defeated efforts this year to pass the bill. They bowed to harsh Tea Party conservatives who have unreasonably thwarted any bipartisan agreement to reward high-achieving, American-raised immigrants any pathway to citizenship.

This is no amnesty program. President Obama's decision to give it a trial run, moreover, has been greeted with a heart-rending outpouring of interest by good, forward-looking young people who are risking rejection for trying to live America's dream. Obama should be praised for this brave and kind act. Republicans who condemn it are either misinformed, or possess little kindness and vision.