Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would attach the so-called “DREAM Act” to a Defense authorization bill expected to come before the Senate as early as next week.
While both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge a desperate need of reform, it will be interesting to see if Congress can get its Act (pun intended) together and transcend its bipartisan bickering and make something happen.
First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought to the U.S. without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high-school, have stayed out of trouble and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.
According to the Immigration Policy Center, research has shown that providing a legal status for young people who have a proven record of success in the United States would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce. University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders have added their voice to those calling for passage of the bill. Foreign-born students represent a significant and growing percentage of the current student population. Unfortunately, immigration status and the associated barriers to higher education contribute to a higher-than-average high dropout rate, which costs taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars each year.
The DREAM Act would eliminate these barriers for many students, and the DREAM Act’s high school graduation requirement would provide a powerful incentive for students who might otherwise drop out to stay in school and graduate. This will help boost the number of high skilled American-raised workers. As they take their place in the workplace as hard working, taxpaying Americans, they will contribute a lifetime of revenues at the local, state and federal level.