The DREAM Act is one of the many controversial and politically charged US Immigration debates that exist today and even moreso during 2012 being a Presidential Election year. Read the link to get more in depth information about the proposed legislation but in short it a bill designed to give children born in the US to illegal immigrant parents (some refer to these kids as anchor babies) to have a legal path to US citizenship. In short this will allow these kids;
- to go to College legally
- access student loans and in state tuition rates
- apply for a social security number
- work legally
- access social support benefits
- and of course after becoming a citizen, vote in state and federal elections
In general, Democrats have been supportive of the most well known and proposed legislation that has existed as pending legislation in various forms for over 10 years. From a political standpoint this has largely lined up with their base being more supportive of the Hispanic demographic, the poor, minorities, being more supportive of a social safety nets and otherwise more all encompassing immigration policies.
However with Hispanic voters being both the largest minority voting block and the fast growing by far of all ethnic groups in the US, Republican politically candidates across the US including the Presidential candidates like Mitt Romney are acutely aware of not alienating this large bloc. It has profound consequences for many both many states today in deciding the Presidency in 2012 but also for future elections. Aware how as a party after the Civil Rights movements in the 60s, when Republicans lost the majority of the African American vote to Democrats, never to return to date, they desperately do not want to lose the majority of another ethinic group predicted to be 40% of the entire US population in 2050.
Enter Dream Act 2.0 as it has been dubbed by many, authored by Republican Florida Senator and Cuban American, Marco Rubio. This takes the original intention of the Dream Act and scales it back without criminalizing these kids of illegal immigrant parents. Essentially instead of providing a direct path to US citizenship, it provides an indirect and uncertain path to US citizenship for all groups except for ones who join the military who will receive a green card after serving.
All others will essentially be eligible for non-immigrant status which is really a fancy (and many say demeaning) way of saying they are eligible for work visas like the H-1B and student visas like F-1 which are the same visas that foreigners can apply for to come to the US. Then from that point via either relevant employer based applications, marriage to a US citizen or legal resident family sponsorship they could get access to a green card albeit with no guarantees and waits of up to 10 years or more.
So is it a good thing if you are a child of illegal immigrant parents?
Well the reality is anything is better than the current situation where they can’t attend college, work legally, travel outside the US, get legal IDs, access to many forms of private healthcare or have any path to normal sort of life with a constant threat of deportation. However you only have to talk to current foreigners to realize how bad and unfair the current Immigration System, Green Card opportunities and Wait Times are.
For example Mexican nationals after going through the 12-18 month green card application process under a status like EB-3 (which is common for professionals with a Bachelors Degree and less than 5 years of experience) will have a waiting period of over 10 years by current wait times before being eligible for a Green Card. (to note; the H-1B length is 6 years for regular maximum).
Ultimately while Democrats have for years for political reasons pandered to the Hispanic voting bloc, the so-called Dream Act 2.0 is a poor imitation of the original designed to curry a little favor to Republicans from the same group. However make no mistake, non-immigration status in many ways is only a small notch above illegal status with constant uncertainty and no clear path to permanency. Additionally adding a whole new bloc of people to the already long waiting queues for Green Card status will only increase wait times for everybody.