The National Education Association is pushing pretty hard for the Dream Act.  An article on its website highlights NEA action in support of this legislation (http://www.nea.org/home/38653.htm): 

“NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen joined leaders from the United States Students Association, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the NAACP, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and other allies in a  press conference calling for passage of the DREAM Act.”

According to the Dream Act Portal , which describes itself as home to the largest community of undocumented youth in the United States, “the DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation in which “undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6-year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.”  To get technical, “undocumented” is another term for illegal immigrant, and several analysts are arguing just how bipartisan this bill really is.  Those in favor of this act feel sorry for these children because it’s their parents who came here illegally, and they were just along for the ride.  I’ll admit, this is a tough one because supporters present a very convincing, heart-breaking argument.  Notice how the DREAM Act Portal describes these individuals: “…they are smeared with an inherited title, an illegal immigrant. These youth have lived in the United States for most of their lives and want nothing more than to be recognized for what they are: Americans.”  Here’s where things get murky for me:

  • OK, they’ve supposedly lived here for most of their lives.  In order to qualify, one must have illegally come to the United States before the age of sixteen (I’ve also heard age fifteen).  Also, one must have lived here for five years prior to the enactment of the bill.  So, let’s say you were 15 fifteen at the time of arrival.  You’re now 20 so you would qualify (if the bill is passed, that is).  That’s only five years—not really most of your life!
  • Also to qualify, you must have good moral character.  The Dream Act Portal says “this is described as being a law-abiding resident of the United States.”  There’s only one problem with this: IF YOU’RE AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, YOU’RE NOT ABIDING BY THE LAW!  How does this even make sense? 

This is a tough issue for me because I do feel sorry for these children.  Really, it’s not their fault.  BUT, what kind of message does this bill send? That it’s OK to break the law or go around it?  That it’s OK to be deceitful and go about things the wrong way?  Will this only encourage more illegal immigration?  Is this really fair?  Natural-born American citizens pay for the illegal actions of their parents as well.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life, and the only way to change things is to teach people that there are serious consequences, not rewards, for breaking the law—whatever that law may be.  As educators, I would think teachers would want to send this message to both the illegal and naturalized youth in our county.  Otherwise, it won’t stop.  I just don’t think this is the best path to take toward “immigration reform.”  My gut says this is wrong.  Once again, my union dollars are pushing something I don’t necessarily support.  I find this happening more and more.

Advertisements