Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Guest Post: Ediberto Roman, DREAM Act Reintroduced, But Is It Enough?

Our February Gust Blogger is Ediberto Roman.  Here is his latest:

DREAM Act Reintroduced, But Is It Enough?

Last week, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL.), announced his intent to reintroduce the DREAM Act. Durbin, will purportedly be joined by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), stated:

“In one of his first official acts… President Biden signed an Executive Order on January 20 to restore DACA.  I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for making DACA one of his highest priorities.  Without DACA, hundreds of thousands of talented young people who have grown up in our country cannot continue their work and are at risk of deportation to countries they barely remember, if they remember at all,” 

While Durbin showed great praise for DACA, he correctly noted it is not a final solution for DREAMers:

“But the resumption of DACA is just the first step toward justice for Dreamers.  Only legislation by Congress can provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers… to all of the Dreamers out there, let me tell you this: passing the Dream Act is still my highest legislative priority.” 

I agree with the good senator, but I would take his argument a step further. As a long-time immigrant rights advocate, I do not agree immigration reform should occur in piecemeal fashion. My primary argument is that such efforts are not enough---DREAMers, youngsters and young adults, who came to this country, often with their parents, as minors, are the most compelling group of undocumented immigrants. Indeed, they are often rightly described as heroes. In fact, according to the PEW Research Institute, roughly three quarters of Americans support legal status for DREAMers. While roughly the same number of democrats support legal status for all undocumented immigrants, that support is not as strong when considering all of the undocumented. A recent VOX study indicates 69% of likely voters questioned supported such status for all undocumented, but I much rather have nearly 75% support than 69% support—further I do not know if I believe 69% of likely voters support legal status for the 11 million or so undocumented workers in this country. When I read optimistic statistics supporting the 11 million undocumented, I cannot help think of Trump rallies, and the support he received for his xenophobic rhetoric. Further, I simply do not trust Congress to pass legal protection laws to non-dreamer immigrant workers, absent the support for protecting DREAMers in such a bill.

If the DREAM Act is introduced, and perhaps this time finally passes and is signed as law, then what is the likelihood other immigration reform legislation will pass? It is precisely because DREAMers are a group with substantial support by the public, they should be part of a bill with the roughly 9 million other undocumented workers (precisely because too few Americans appreciate the value of the majority of the undocumented). Simply put, the DREAM Act needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, as I argued for in a previous writing on the subject.



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