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American Dreamers — Why Fact-based Immigration Policy is Good for Our Economy, Good for America
President Obama’s decision to override years of anti-immigrant obstruction is not only good for immigrant families — it is good for America as a whole.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates this approach, known as the DREAM Act, will reduce our deficit by $1.4 billion over the next 10 years due to increased tax revenue. A recent study by UCLA’s North American Integration and Development Center estimated that $1.4 TRILLION over 40 years in income would be generated by DREAM Act beneficiaries. And, America’s military leaders advocate for the DREAM Act because it would significantly increase the pool of recruits qualified to defend our nation.
Since I can’t be sure what you may have heard from exploiters of anti-immigrant hysteria employed in politics and in One Percent Media, let’s be clear about what we are talking about. First of all, the law does not grant voting rights to anyone — this is the major sticking point for Republican moderates on this issue, who want immigration reforms such as these in order to grow our economy, but are weary of expanding the immigrant (and, let’s be frank, non-white) electorate. Okay, so no new voters to deal with. What this new policy does do is allow people who were brought to U.S. by their parents before the age of 16 to avoid deportation and get work permits. To qualify, they must have resided in the country continuously for five years, graduated high school or have a GED, have no criminal convictions and be younger than 30.
In a global economy, our competitiveness depends on attracting the best and the brightest to this country, and keeping the ones we have. We need, not only this measure, but Comprehensive Immigration Reform in order to meet the labor demands of a growing economy. We must have a better ratio of workers to retirees. Right now, that ratio is getting worse as the Baby Boomers retire and anti-immigrant hysteria (stoked for political gain) prevents us from taking advantage of our country’s global reputation as the land of opportunity and the nation of immigrants. A growing work force, and an innovative, rapidly expanding economy are crucial if we are going to solve the fiscal crisis made worse by the Great Recession.
70% of Americans support the DREAM Act. Even in Arizona that number is 73%. If enacted, it would offer six years of residential status for young people who are in every way “American,” but were brought to the U.S. as children without proper legal status. After ten years, they could apply for a green card if they have completed two years of college or two years of honorable service in the U.S. military. And, after acquiring a green card, they could apply for citizenship.
Despite bipartisan support for the DREAM Act, the irrational ugliness we have seen in opposition is a manifestation of widening division within the Republican party between pragmatists and extremists.
In a Washington Post op-ed, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson urged his party to support the DREAM Act, writing:
“The choice here is not between the presence of these young immigrants and their absence. No one is proposing the mass deportation of this particular group, which would be last on the target list of even the most enthusiastic immigration restrictionist. The actual choice is between allowing these young men and women to develop their talents and serve in the military, or not.”
And Illinois’ former governor, also a Republican, begins his outstanding editorial:
“A rational approach to comprehensive immigration reform should begin with the young people who were brought here as babies, toddlers and adolescents.”
We need a President and a Congress who make decisions in the nation’s best interest, even if a small fragment of the nation is vociferously against it. We need to grow up as a nation. Fear of demographic shift is NOT more important than America’s economic viability and competitiveness in the world. [MORE]
Copyright 2012 Egberto Willies