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The DREAM Act is an important legislation that aims at granting residential status to immigrants, upon satisfying particular conditions and requirements. This is a law that targets undocumented immigrants who arrived in America when they were below the ages of 16 years. This means that the law seeks to help people who came into the United States when they were young, and were brought by their parents who entered the country as undocumented immigrants. It is important to note that these people came into the country when they were young and they were brought into the country by their parents.
Under this legislation, there are certain conditions that a person must meet, for purposes of qualifying for residential status in the country. One of the conditions is that the immigrants should have been below 16 years when they came into the country, and of a good character (Branscomb, n.d). Other conditions that these immigrants must satisfy are that the individual must have a high school diploma and they must pass a criminal test. By passing this test, the candidate should not have any criminal background and history.
It is important to note that if the DREAM Act is passed and implemented, it will solve the inability of about 65,000 students who pass through American High Schools and are unable to get work or go to college because of their status as undocumented immigrants (Keyes, 2014). These people came into the country when they were very young, and therefore, they have a lot of similarities to second generation Americans. On a cultural aspect, these children are basically Americans and they have very little connection to their home countries. On this note, these children should be given an opportunity to social and economic facilities that are in the country.
This bill has a rich legislative history, and it is known to be supported by about 168 legislators, and this includes congressmen and senators. In 2009, the Bill was re-introduced in congress, and among its supporters includes Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez and Dick Durbin. Amongst the provisions of this re-introduction was the consideration to grant student loans to immigrants, and to engage in work study programs (Branscomb, n.d). In 2010, the bill was re-introduced in congress, and it managed to pass the House of Representatives, but it is the senate that could not pass the bill, because it did not reach the 60 vote’s threshold that is required to end the debate in the senate.
Harry Reid re-introduced the bill in 2011, but senators such as Lindsey Graham, John McCain and John Cornyn refused to support the bill because it did not provide a better mechanism of regulating immigration and preventing illegal immigration. Initially, these senators supported the bill in 2010, with an argument that it was a humanitarian intervention and would help to address the problems that children who came in America as undocumented immigrants face.
Finally, despite the failure by Congress to pass the DREAM act legislation, President Obama issued out an executive order, which stopped the deportation of young illegal immigrants, and granted them the work status and privilege of joining colleges (Branscomb, n.d).
One of the alternatives to this law is the STARS Act. This was a legislation that was introduced by Marco Rubio and David Rivera. This law is not aggressive and controversial in solving the immigration problems in America, and it has the following advantages (Keyes, 2014);
- Allows undocumented immigrants below 20 years to have an access to conditional residency status.
- Students who qualify for this program must have come to America when they are under 16 years, and they must have good high school grades that will lead to being accepted in American Universities.
- These children must have lived for a consecutive 5 years in America.
- The act allows these children a five year residential status, and an option of applying for another five years of the same status.
- Children who graduate from American Universities and stay in America have a chance of becoming citizens of the country; hence, this law provides a pathway to American citizenship.
Despite the need of helping undocumented immigrants, the STARS act has a number of limitations. The following are the limitations that are found in the STARS act (Olivares, 2013);
- The act does not provide a clear step and process that can be used to obtain permanent residency in America.
- Furthermore, the law may make it difficult for undocumented immigrants to come back into the country after leaving. This is because it does not address the provision whereby a person must take ten years to be eligible for entering United States, if they stay in the country illegally for more than 6 months (Carrasco & Seif, 2014).
Furthermore, another alternative to this legislation is the ARMS Act. This is a legislation introduced by David Rivera and it militarizes the provision of residential and citizenship status to immigrants. The following are the advantages of the ARMS act,
- It provides citizenship to undocumented immigrants who have served in the army and discharged honorably.
- It factors in good moral standing of the applicants and carries out a background check to ascertain whether they have criminal records.
Despite these advantages, the Arms Act has a number of disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are,
- Militarization of immigration policies.
- It does not guarantee automatic residential status.
It is important to assert that the difficulty in passing the DREAMS act and its alternatives is based on a number of disadvantages that legislators feel these laws will have immigration (Keyes, 2014). The following are some of the disadvantages that Americans feel the law will have on immigration and security of Americans;
- Allowing these laws to pass will encourage illegal immigration.
- Inability to deport illegal and undocumented immigrants who are a security threat to the country.
- The amnesty programs are vulnerable to fraud, and this includes provision of wrong information for purposes of getting amnesty under the immigration acts.
However, it is important to assert that despite these disadvantages, there are a number of benefits and advantages that the passage of the DREAMS Act and its alternatives present (Carrasco & Seif, 2014). The following are some of the advantages of passing and implementing the DREAMS Act,
- Economic development because the country would benefit from the skills that these children have and the taxes they pay once they get paid employment.
- It will help in the resolution of the illegal status of millions of children who came in the country when they were young.
- It is a humanitarian approach of helping children who came into the country through the illegal activities of their parents. These children do not have the ability to make decisions; hence it was not their fault to come into the country.
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One of the best alternatives of solving the immigration problem in America is through the integration of the provisions of the STARS Act and that of the DREAMS Acts. For instance, the STARS Act allows these children to get citizenship status once they satisfy particular conditions. This is an important method of solving the immigration problem that is brought about by these undocumented children. Giving them a path to citizenship is a good method of protecting their social and economic interests, and this is basically because it was not the fault of these children to come to America as undocumented immigrants. They were below the age of making independent decisions; hence there is a need of removing punitive legislations that are directed to them. Furthermore, the DREAMS Act provides a pathway to permanent residency and it outlines the conditions that an individual has to satisfy so that they may acquire the benefit.
- Branscomb, M. The DREAM Act. Pandemonium is a free art and scholastic journal sponsored by the Graduate Student Association of San Diego State University in coordination with SDSU Associated Students., 103.
- Carrasco, T. A. U., & Seif, H. (2014). Disrupting the dream: Undocumented youth reframe citizenship and deportability through anti-deportation activism. Latino Studies, 12(2), 279-299.
- Keyes, E. (2014). Defining American: The DREAM Act, Immigration Reform and Citizenship. Browser Download This Paper.
- Olivares, M. (2013). Renewing the Dream: DREAM Act Redux and Immigration Reform.