The newly announced Executive Order addressing immigration regulations differs from the proposed DREAM Act that’s forever mired in Congressional politics. President Obama’s order halts deportation proceedings against young people who have no legal status here because they were brought to the USA as kids, and allows them to apply for work permits. (For details, see USAToday article.)
The Editorial Board has supported passage of the DREAM Act. Here’s a Journal News/LoHud.com editorial that appeared on Thanksgiving:
Let more live the American dream
Thanksgiving lore tells of the Pilgrims giving thanks, alongside Native Americans, for the bounty they created in their new land. We can help expand our country’s bounty, and honor it as a place that provides freedom and opportunity to those willing to work hard and contribute to its growth, by finally passing the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act — for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — allows conditional permanent residency status for people who came to the U.S. as children if they are pursuing a college education or are serving in the military. If they achieve certain goals — an associate’s degree, for example — they could eventually get permanent legal status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship. Immigrant students wouldn’t qualify for federal financial aid, but they could obtain student loans. States, like New York, that grant their residents in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status, would no longer be penalized with loss of federal funds.
New York legislators are considering various versions of a state DREAM Act.
The New York State Board of Regents, which has lobbied in support of the federal DREAM Act, also plans to craft its own state proposal.
The DREAM Act doesn’t begin to fix our nation’s convoluted immigration system that falls short at both keeping out bad actors and nurturing new citizens. That balancing act has long eluded Washington.
The Department of Homeland Security took a significant common-sense step last week, when it announced a plan to provide triage to an overtaxed immigration court docket. New training will help judges, enforcement agents and prosecutors focus on deporting convicted criminals and those who threaten our national security, and allow more discretion when pursuing deportation against illegal immigrants with no criminal record, especially those with strong family and community ties.
The DREAM Act is another smart step. It opens a pathway to people who have proven themselves dedicated and contributing members of society.
To grow and prosper, we must make room for more people who want to live the American dream. There are those who have already proven a love of this country and a passion to learn and achieve. Pass the DREAM Act and let the nation thrive. After all, at the American Thanksgiving table, even in hard times, there’s always room for more.
— A Journal News editorial
Here are more details on the DREAM Act, from the National Immigration Law Center:
• Most students who arrived in the United States when they were 15 or younger, at least five years before the bill was enacted, could seek conditional permanent resident status after being accepted to college, graduating from high school or receiving a GED.
• Students would have up to six years to graduate from a two-year college or certain vocational schools, study for at least two years toward a bachelor’s degree or serve in the military for at least two years. If they met those requirements, they could eventually get permanent legal status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship, the group said.
• The immigrants would not be eligible for Pell grants or certain other federal financial-aid grants but could participate in federal work-study programs and obtain student loans.
• States, including New York, no longer would be penalized for providing in-state tuition rates to resident students, regardless of their immigration status. States that provide the benefit have to give the same in-state discount rate to residents of other states who previously went to high school and graduated in the state.