Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
America was built on the premise that all men are created equal and that this is the land of opportunity; yet many Americans fervently debate the topic of immigration as though it were a newly-formed problem plaguing our country. People opposed to immigration often base their views on the subject with prejudice and ignorance. Those in favor of immigration realize that immigration was, and remains to be, how this country was formed. Politicians debate it and citizens argue it. Yet nothing ever seems to get resolved. The DREAM Act attempts to reform this country's current immigration policies by issuing citizenship to adolescent illegal immigrants. Although this proposal is meant to encourage bright young minds from other nations to embrace citizenship in the United States, the proposal brings with it some inherent problems that may prove detrimental to America.
The DREAM Act, in essence, provides amnesty for illegal immigrants who not only have entered the United States illegally, but have managed to evade federal authorities for deportation. There are policies presently in place for obtaining legal status in America and, though cumbersome and lengthy, the policies are designed to protect this nation from potentially dangerous individuals. In "Politics Interrupts a Dream," Ruben Navarrette states that the DREAM Act would "allow the United States to keep precisely the kind of individuals that other countries would love to have." But it is hard to believe that this country is looking for individuals who are willing to participate in illegal activities and to defy this country's federal laws to get what they desire. This ideology could potentially open a Pandora's Box of illegal activity, all in the name of a better life. Although a noble concept, the DREAM Act seems to imply that by participating in an illegal act, an immigrant can obtain legal status. Furthermore, this newly acquired status could be used to secure green cards for the millions of illegal immigrant parents who brought their children into the country illegally in the first place. If this were to occur, the current immigration laws would become useless, putting the United States in a potentially vulnerable position.
The DREAM Act has the potential to encourage future illegal immigration on an unprecedented scale. Numerous immigrants enter the United States illegally each year with a hope for a better life. These immigrants either refuse to or are unwilling to obtain legal status, and they forgo the required steps to do so. The DREAM Act gives immigrants even more incentive not only to continue illegal immigration but to look at the legal means of entry as an unnecessary avenue. It becomes apparent that offering adolescent foreigners the prospect of citizenship through illegal means would produce a rise in illegal immigration that could potentially harm more immigrants than it would help. Traveling to America illegally is a potentially deadly venture for an adult, let alone a child. The harsh conditions that illegal immigrants subject themselves to in order to reach the United States are fraught with dangers that most Americans cannot comprehend. Many face the risk of death every year. By giving a reward for becoming an illegal immigrant, the DREAM Act is essentially encouraging this potentially deadly pursuit. A more effective use of immigration reform might be to offer incentives to those who wish to immigrate to America legally instead of to reward those who break the law.
The proposed DREAM Act would also provide unjust tuition favors that law-abiding foreigners and out-of-state students are denied. Currently, if a legal citizen from one state wishes to attend a public college in another, the student is required to pay a much higher rate of tuition than the student who resides in the state in which the college is located; this goes for foreign students as well. For an illegal immigrant, this problem is simply overcome by illegally entering the country and receiving taxpayer-funded tuition assistance. The injustice lies in that individuals who are law abiding are punished with higher tuition rates while illegal activities such as illegal entry into America are rewarded. Currently, ten states already provide in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants so long as they avoid law enforcement and remain in the state in violation of federal immigration laws. Legal foreigners and out-of-state students, however, are not as fortunate. They must pay full out-of-state tuition to attend these same schools. It seems as though a uniform tuition rate across the board might be a better alternative for encouraging continued education.
Immigration to America is vital to this country's success and survival. The calloused hands and sore backs of immigrants built this country, but laws exist in this country for a reason, and that is to protect American interests. If America is willing to reward those who break our laws, then why were the laws developed in the first place? The DREAM Act provides amnesty for illegal behavior, encourages future illegal immigration, and makes tuition unfair to everyone. A better alternative is out there, and if politicians would work together, a solution that benefits everyone would be found. If voting on the DREAM Act today were an option, my choice would be "no."
Navarrette, Ruben, Jr. "Politics Interrupts a Dream." The Washington Post Writers Group 18 August 2010. 15 November 2010. <http://www.postwritersgroup.com/archives/nava100818.htm >