The New York Dream Act can be a strengthening measure for New York’s future—with some major modifications. The key is to eliminate those provisions that result in greater benefits for the children of illegal aliens than tax-paying U.S. citizens while not losing sight of the fact that productive members of society will be contributors on a skill level and as generators of tax revenue for this country over the longer term.
Requiring a contribution to this country through the Dream Act, by way of military service or obtaining higher education credentials will give the children of illegal immigrants, who broke the law to come into this country through no fault of their own, a better chance of making a decent living and not becoming burdens to society. This is a commendable goal.
There are provisions in the New York Dream Act, however, that are particularly offensive to tax-paying U.S citizens and all immigrants who entered this country legally and these provisions must be modified or eliminated before this legislation should even be considered. There are two items, in particular, that are likely to be the greatest stumbling blocks to passage of the Dream Act.
As currently written, the legislation provides for state-funded financial aid programs that include, but are not limited to, grants, loans and scholarships. Financial aid should be limited to loans that must be paid back and scholarships, since they are earned by the student. College students and graduates who are U.S citizens are burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in debt from student loans which must be paid back. Even bankruptcy does not excuse student loan debt. Understandably, it may be appalling to some that anyone of illegal status in this country should receive preferential treatment to obtain an education.
Offering New York State health care coverage is clearly another sticking point, since the 99% in America are struggling with the high cost of health care that continues to rapidly escalate. It is baffling that healthcare coverage even figured into this whole scenario. It is an insult to the American taxpayer and our legal immigrants to offer this benefit to people who are here illegally, regardless of age.
The broader Dream Act on the Federal level also has a provision for a path to citizenship. If the children of illegal immigrants fulfill the requirements of the act by serving in the military or attending college and not engaging in criminal activity, then it is feasible to have citizenship as the ultimate goal.
A serious flaw in the national legislation is that it allows the children of illegal immigrants to petition for their parents who brought them here to become legal once the child achieves citizenship and becomes 21 years of age. While children should not be held responsible for the illegal acts of their parents, they certainly should not be permitted to have their parents, who broke U.S law to come to this country be rewarded by becoming citizens.
There is a huge downside in passing the Dream Act, especially on the state level and that is the potential avalanche of illegal immigration above and beyond the current numbers, which are already putting a strain on municipal and federal budgets. If New York were to enact this legislation as one of the early adapters, throngs of illegal aliens would flock here to take advantage of the benefits offered in the hope that a broader initiative would lead to citizenship. During the time that they are undocumented, they would be part of the burgeoning underground economy, not paying taxes and burdening our health care facilities.
Unless one is an American Indian, we are all either immigrants or the descendents of immigrants. America was built upon the contribution of those that came here seeking a better life. In the early 1900s when a huge wave of immigrants came to America through Ellis Island, they embraced this country as their own and worked hard to achieve success.
America does not suffer from anti-immigrant sentiment, but takes issue with illegal immigration. Careful consideration must go into all legislation that affects the American people, and the Dream Act is a perfect opportunity to come to a solution that is fair to Americans as well as those seeking the opportunities of this great country.