Dec 072010
 
Authors: Ian Bezek

It’s always embarrassing when you have to admit you were wrong, even if only a few people know it.

Imagine the shame, then, that we columnists face when admitting we were in wrong front of the entire student body.

It’s my time to eat crow. In three years writing for the Collegian, I’ve written at least twice about the DREAM Act, calling for its defeat. But I was wrong.

The DREAM Act is a proposal that would allow individuals who are not U.S. citizens, of who are the children of illegal immigrants, to gain citizenship as long as they complete two years of college or serve in the armed forces and have no
criminal record.

I previously opposed this legislation because I viewed it as a backdoor step toward granting amnesty to all the 10 to 15 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

I also argued that the DREAM Act could serve as an incentive to encourage more illegal immigration.

But these issues with the DREAM Act are not sufficient reason to oppose this legislation.

The 800,000 immigrants who would be eligible to gain citizenship under the DREAM Act are among the best and most productive members of the illegal immigrant community here in the United States.

They are educated, they have clean criminal records and they are able to become beneficial members of society. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that passing this legislation would generate a net economic benefit of $2.3 billion for the United States by 2020.

Illegal immigration allegedly causes dramatic financial costs for the U.S., but this just isn’t true. A Council On Foreign Relations report from 2007 found that illegal immigration cost the U.S. 0.07 percent of its GDP. We spend more than this on border security – it’s a trifling amount of money.

And the class of immigrants that would gain citizenship under the DREAM Act consists of such good potential citizens that their naturalization would actually generate net economic benefit for the U.S.

The arguments against the DREAM Act are driven by fear, and I sadly was sucked in. Opponents of the DREAM Act claim that it would cause millions of native-born Americans to lose their jobs; this would be no small achievement since the Act would legalize less than 1 million people.

Opponents also argue that this will lead to amnesty for all illegal immigrants later. This argument falls flat in that amnesty will already undoubtedly occur at some point, whether or not the DREAM Act is passed first.

As I documented in my column on the demographic future of the United States, Hispanics will replace non-Hispanic Caucasians within the next 100 years as a majority –– and they, as they approach majority status, aren’t going to leave their brothers stuck without citizenship.

A large amnesty was last passed under President Reagan, a staunch conservative, when Hispanics had almost no electoral influence. Today, the country has moved to the left and Hispanics have much more power at the ballot box. Amnesty is inevitable whether we like it or not.

Besides, it really would be nearly impossible to deport more than 10 million illegal immigrants without massive human rights abuses and a huge international scene. Remember Elian Gonzales? Now imagine that times 10 million people. It’s not happening folks.

Regardless of what you think of amnesty for all illegals, you should support the DREAM Act as it is a limited amnesty that will only offer citizenship to hard-working illegals who are deprived of the rights and opportunities of Americans because their parents chose to come here. The people who would benefit from the DREAM Act didn’t chose to immigrate here themselves, they are just trapped in the system.

The problem of illegal immigration is an economic issue. It’s caused by economic problems that arise from globalization. If you want to temper the flow of migrant workers, work on reforming NAFTA or punishing the companies that hire illegals; don’t take your anger out on the lowly kids of illegal immigrants.

I urge the Senate to approve this legislation in the lame duck session while it has a chance. This bill would improve people’s lives and improve our nation’s fiscal health; there’s no good reason to oppose it.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:35 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.