Imagine for a moment that you are a teenager: you have a group of close friends who've been with you since elementary school; you're one of the top students in your class; and your coach tells you that if you keep it up, you could have a shot at a scholarship, which you really need since your dream is to go into medicine. Unfortunately, you won't be able to fulfill your dream because of your parent's undocumented status. As one of the 65,000 undocumented students in the U.S. who graduate from high school each year, you are barred from higher education and cannot legally obtain employment after graduation. Worse yet, there are people who in the U.S. who believe that all undocumented immigrants should be deported. Through no fault of your own, you could be forced to leave your home and move to a "foreign" country.
Does that seem fair? The DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a way for undocumented students to gain permanent residency through education or military service, is taking a hit from anti-immigrant groups, and in some cases, migrant advocates.
According to the Denver Daily News, "anti-illegal immigration advocate and former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo said the bill should be renamed the NIGHTMARE Act because it will increase the amount of people who come to the United States illegally." FAIR thinks the DREAM Act is a bad idea, calling it amnesty for illegal aliens. The group echoes many anti-DREAMers saying that the DREAM Act would reward undocumented immigrants and encourage continued illegal immigration, it would take education spots away from American students and make it more difficult for them to obtain tuition assistance, and passage of the DREAM Act would put additional strain on the country since the students could eventually petition for their relatives' residency. Citizen Orange explains that the military provision within the DREAM Act is a cause of concern for some migrant advocates. The author says that because many undocumented youth are underprivileged, joining the military could be their only path to legal status. It's a concern that depends on a person's view of military service: whether it is seen as being forced to risk your life, or an honorable way to serve your country.
There will always be differing views and opinions on any type of legislation, but especially so when it comes to a controversial topic like immigration. For some, the debate is as simple as whether or not to make children suffer because of the actions of their parents. For others, the DREAM Act is only one small part of comprehensive immigration reform, and the effect of such legislation would be widespread. But for the DREAMers--the undocumented students whose futures depend upon the outcome--the outcome of the legislation means much, much more.