Gray Panthers of San Francisco
September 2007 Newsletter

Immigration: The DREAM Act


The USA DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), S.774 (Durbin), makes young foreign-born adults eligible for permanent residence if they have lived here long-term and spend two years in higher education or military service. While many immigrant groups support it, others oppose it for the following reasons.

The DREAM Act provides strong incentive for young undocumented immigrants to risk their lives in the military forces in Iraq, killing or being killed to defend the same exploitative foreign policies that pauperized their home countries and forced them to migrate to the US in the first place. It would supplement an economic draft with a green card draft. Some statistics show that for every Hispanic student attending two or four year college, twenty are not. Given these unaddressed barriers, military service will be the legalization option most used, not college. And given the indefinite extensions of Iraq tours of duty, and the short stays stateside, this would involve years of military duty, with more chance of dying. (See below.)

The DREAM Act is not about increasing educational opportunity. It does little or nothing to address the real barriers to college for immigrants: high costs for tuition, fees, books, and housing; terrible elementary and high schools in areas where immigrants live, particularly for students with limited English skills; and all-consuming jobs and lack of support services for immigrant parents. True, the DREAM Act affirms undocumented students’ right to in-state tuition rates, but states already have this power if students qualify by having attended US schools, and nine states, California among them, already do this. (See below.)

The DREAM Act divides immigrant communities. Legalizing only a small proportion of immigrants while raids, deportations, and separation of families are being stepped up divides the immigrant community in a way they will not accept. Two years ago, the US proposed different paths to legalization depending on how long immigrants had been here, and they vehemently rejected this.

Gray Panthers’ position should be solidarity with immigrants and a demand for complete and unconditional amnesty for all immigrants.

For more on the Dream Act as military recruitment more than impetus for higher education, see this CounterPunch article and this Truthout article.

Three webpages on immigrant organizations opposing the DREAM Act: 1 2 3

States have option of offering in-state higher education tuition to undocumented students on basis of having attended US high schools: 1 2

Gray Panthers in solidarity with immigrants in demonstrations: 1 2 3

(back to September 2007 Newsletter front page)