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At the start of this year, there was an estimated 3.6 million DREAMers in the United States. This means 3.6 million young adult's lives are at risk of suddenly, and unexpectedly being uprooted without a say, that is, without protection via the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for the act. Being introduced in 2017, the DREAM Act is an effective way to grant immediate citizenship to undocumented immigrants given these certain conditions: Graduate high school, enroll in college, join the workforce, or enlist in any branch of the military. Without this protection, nearly four million young adults are at risk of being tossed into an unfamiliar country, with nowhere to go, and no one to depend upon.
Although it would help millions of young adults as well as our economy, the act may present some unwanted side effects. The first of these is, it may result in encouraging mass immigration. Many parents are already encouraged to immigrate to the United States for their kids to have a better education due to the poor public school system in Mexico, and this would just make that venture even more appealing to them. The DREAM act effectively promises parents a significantly better life for their children, one that the parents couldn't have for themselves. Not only could this lead to higher undocumented immigration rates, but it could also result in lower documented immigration via work or school visas due to the difficulty of acquiring such documentation. Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to prevent such a side effect while maintaining the nature of this act. The day ICE loosens up and indirectly encourages undocumented immigration, is the day immigrants don't take them seriously anymore.
This is the second side effect. The DREAM Act may degrade the legitimacy of ICE and immigration laws as a whole. Being told the adults will be deported but the children will be supported would result in ICE not being taken seriously. Similar to the first side effect, this would likely lead to higher undocumented immigration rates as well as result in lower documented immigration rates. Yet again, there is no foreseeable way to prevent such a side effect from occurring apart from building a wall and engaging in a zero-tolerance policy for any and all immigration from this point forward.
Many strongly opinionated, opposing conservatives result to uneducated insults rather than facts. The most common of these is: "Just do it legally." Although it sounds good in concept, actually attempting to become a legal U.S. citizen is harder than one may think. There is a reason an estimated 11 million of the total 45 million immigrants are undocumented. The first of many roadblocks are only 26,000 immigrants are allowed entry into the states from Mexico each year. Although this sounds like a lot, there is currently a waiting list of around 1.3 million Mexicans, meaning there are applicants from as far back as 1997 awaiting their chance to enter the United States. If an immigrant were to join the waiting list today, that person may have to wait up to fifty years for his or her turn to enter the states. As shown above, legally getting into the United States of America is not always as easy as many would assume. In my own opinion, reducing the waiting period may encourage getting registered and documented, rather than the latter. That being said, it is not currently impossible to get in sooner, and definitely always still an option.
Another common complaint heard among conservatives is "They do not speak English." Unlike the last point, this one has some fact behind it. In 2016 a reported 51% of all immigrants spoke fluent English. This number had only risen by 0.1% since the previous year and has dropped by 6.7% since 1980. When speaking with an immigrant, you are flipping a coin to determine if they can understand you. This paired with the fact that immigration numbers are rising, and that it is illegal to deny someone a job due to their language, and you begin to see the problem. Unlike the other issues, this one has a ready-made solution. Instead of providing separate classes for non-English speaking people, make English a mandatory language. This would result in the number of English speaking DREAMer's to skyrocket to 100%.
Although I have discussed the act itself up until this point, an important fact to consider when debating this topic is why people immigrate to the United States. Apart from granting their children a better life, the parents too are promised a better life. Not only are the schools significantly better in the United States, but the average wage in Mexico is also around five dollars a day, in contrast, the minimum wage in the United States is around seven dollars an hour. Many immigrants find jobs even without proper documentation, some even manage to enroll in school. Simply put, the economy, and the public school system is so poor in Mexico many immigrants are unthreatened by ICE, border control, and immigration laws. However, a zero-tolerance policy paired with higher border security (ie. a wall) would prevent the country from even having to worry about DREAMers in the first place.
The zero-tolerance policy seems like it may work. However, how has it worked in the past? Canada is among the countries that have a zero-tolerance immigration rate and it works great for them. In 2017 there were an estimated 272,000 immigrants in Canada, opposed to the 11.1 million immigrants in the United States in 2017. Clearly, this zero-tolerance policy works, even if it is not the sole reason the number is substantially lower. With this being said, should we even really want a low immigrant population?
The last of the common complaints heard is "They are stealing our jobs.". Yet again this complaint is backed with fact, to an extent. In 2016 immigrants took up about 15% of the workforce in total, as well as, a quarter of all entrepreneurs, and a quarter of all investors in the United States of America. Although a total 25% of all entrepreneurs are immigrants, those aren't jobs taken, but rather jobs created via. immigrants starting their own businesses. Not only are they creating more jobs, but they are also creating new inventions, and possibly improving the world with what they create. Meaning, immigrants are rapidly improving the economy, and possibly the world rather than wrecking it as the original complaint implies. Maybe immigrants aren't a bad thing after all.
As shown above, the DREAM Act is by no means perfect and requires a lot of fixes. However, after applying the proposed solution in the paragraphs above, there would be minimal flaws with this act. Building a wall, and having a zero-tolerance policy for any, and all new immigrants may effectively reduce the population of immigrants. However, in my own opinion, the DREAM Act is the best way to deal with all the immigrants currently in the United States of America. The fact of the matter is, these DREAMers had no say in the matter when being brought over by parents or other family members, and should not have to be the one that pays the consequences for their parents or families actions.