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The Dream Act

Monday, May. 14, 2012

The best college student comment on "The Dream Act" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, May 28.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.  

Ana immigrated illegally to the United States from Mexico when she was just two-years-old. Alongside her father and two older siblings, Ana was carried on her mother’s back to California where they now reside. Sixteen years later, Ana is applying to college; however, she needs public funding in order to attend these institutions.

The California DREAM Act—a bill similar to the national DREAM Act which helps minors who have arrived illegally attain permanent residency—would allow Ana access to scholarships and funding she needs to attend college. However, any money that she receives from the state is the same taxpayers’ money that could be going to other students.

Is it fair, then, that Ana, who is in the country illegally, receive the funds that Californian citizens could use as well? Should Ana’s eligibility to receive such public funds depend on whether her parents have worked and contributed to society during their time in California? How much of Ana’s educational aspirations should be sacrificed because of her parents' decision when she was an infant?

Further Information

Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

Overview Of The National Dream Act  


Comments Comments

Carlson Ponders said on May 17, 2012
Whether it is a civil dispute or a state infraction, people in the US are very litigiously minded. Thus, when the issue of illegal immigration comes up, people react very passionately because the law is being broken. But when we use such a term as ?law? I think it is necessary to appeal to some of the distinctions St. Thomas Aquinas made. He differentiated between ?law on the books? (what the state says we are supposed to do) and ?natural law? (our participation in God?s plan for us, aka acting to procure the RIGHT regardless of what others may say). Often, however, these two clash. For instance, with immigration, the law on the books says that the taxpayers? money should be used for taxpayers? needs. However, the natural law would encourage us to help all regardless of their legal deservedness. So in the case with Ana, although she may not be due any funds according to the letter of the law, the meaning behind it--that taxpayers? money be used to improve society--would incline one to believe that Ana and any other high-achieving college student should receive the funds. Furthermore, the fact that Ana had no say in committing the illegality as an infant (though you could argue that she does so implicitly by not moving back once she?s conscious of the laws), I imagine that no one wants to extend the consequences of one?s parents to the child. And for these reasons, I believe Ana should receive the money. - Like - 3 people like this.
Carlson Ponders said on May 17, 2012
All of those question marks are either apostrophes or quotation marks. Darn notepad didn't make them normal for me when I copied it in from word. Grrr... - Like - 1 person likes this.
DREAMer said on May 18, 2012
This whole thing is getting old, how long will the DREAM Act be stood up dry? when will it actually become a reality? and for Ana, I am in the same situation as hers. I believe that we're not aliens nor illegals in this world, who the heck came up with those words for human beings? just say you're undocumented. Ana is a northern american now, she grew up here with different cultures, I can't say North America has a culture, it's made by thousands of cultures. Meaning this is and will always be a nation of immigrants. Ana is an immigrant waiting for a miracle, that miracle is called papers, to work, get a driver license, apply for schlarships, grants and FAFSA. It is fair for Ana to receive the same help those who are citizens or residents in the US. Both the undocumented and the one's with papers went through the same process, fought for the same purpose, and desire to succeed in life. Ana should receive as much as she deserves, not based on what her parents have done or not have done. The parents made the decicion to bring her to North America, she didn't know where she was at the moment, she was just a child living life innocently. If she will contribute to this nation like she has done so far, and pay taxes and do so much more to give back to the place where she grew up, just let her live life free! - Like - 1 person likes this.
Dave Andrews said on May 19, 2012
Kids should not suffer for the transgressions of their parents. Imagine someone came from a household in which his or her father was a convicted murderer. Since the father has broken the law the kid should not be eligible for government assistance right? That is the same flawed logic being used to harm the future of education in America. We must invest in bright people like Ana. - Like - 2 people like this.
Colleen said on May 22, 2012
One of the many misconceptions related to undocumented immigrants is that they do not pay taxes. This is false. Not only do they pay property and sales taxes, many of them also pay income taxes. As a volunteer at a clinic that provides free consultations and lawyer services to immigrants below the poverty level who are looking to adjust their status, I have to ask them about when they last paid taxes, and how often; the majority of the people have documentation that shows they have filed almost every year they have been in the US. Not only that, these students have already been invested in through k-12 education, and many of them exceed expectations and the odds of coming from typically low income families (because of lack of documentation) and often having parents that may speak little to no English. I have one friend who moved here at the age of 10 who went on to graduate as the valedictorian of his high school class, then continued on to college and finally law school where he continued to be at the top of his class. Yet, despite passing the Bar Exam, because of his status he cannot practice. There is another DREAMer that I know who has her MASTERS in Nursing, yet she cannot practice either because of her status. By not providing these excellent students a pathway to citizenship, the United States is losing the talent of a strong workforce! Not only that, it is discouraging students in middle in high school, especially seniors and juniors, who hear all of their friends discussing their plans for the future, and realizing their own future is uncertain only because of where they were born. Often, guidance counselors don?t know how to handle these students, let alone help them. These students have so much potential, but many will drop out of school or they may suffer from severe depression because their DREAMS are being denied. I believe that students like Ana who have worked hard deserve to continue their education. If she is chosen to receive scholarships, then she was the best candidate. She deserves the right to pay in-state tuition because she and her family do contribute to taxes. And finally, this is the United States of America, the country where hard work is supposed to take you far, but DREAMers like Ana are lied to with this, and instead they are wrongly told to leave the home they have ever know. - Like - 333 people like this.
Colleen said on May 28, 2012
I would also like to add, if these people contribute to society, by doing things such as paying taxes and making their community better as a whole, should they not receive the same benefits as others who contribute as well? When helping members of the community is restricted by papers (or lack there of), the community as a whole will not prosper to its full potential. Why do people leave their countries to come here anyways? Their countries don't provide for the community as they should, for example the lack of jobs or basic needs like clean water. Any parents will confirm that they want their children to have good lives, and Ana's parents did what they thought was best for her and their family. - Like - 11 people like this.
DREAMER said on May 23, 2012
The DREAM ACT has been denied to dreamers because of the ignorance that surrounds the population. When people hear the word "illegal" immediately they think of criminals but in reality this term is overrated. Nobody should be called an illegal alien simply because of their legal status. These dreamers like me, were brought into this dreamland at a very young age. Parents came to the land of dreams to provide a better future for their children. Going to school is not a problem for undocumented youth till you reach the college level. Then reality hits and you realize your situation. Why shouldn?t these hardworking students like me be allowed to receive financial aid from taxpayer? These taxpayers include the money my parents work for. If in other words my parents pay for others education, why shouldn't I get financial aid from other taxpayer? How is this world supposed to be a better place if education is being restricted to undocumented youth? Why should these hardworking, intelligent DREAMERS be restricted from pursing a higher education? These undocumented youth are the future of America and currently they are being held back from achieving their dreams. - Like
aisha said on May 26, 2012
I think we should first begin be defining the telos of the DREAM act. The DREAM act was created to ?help minors who have arrived illegally attain permanent residency.? But why? It is presumed that a minor is different from an adult, and a minor should not be subjected to the same immigration policies of an adult illegal immigrant. The moral-reasoning capacity of a minor is also very different from that of adults and this is evident in the law. E.g., minors receive different, lesser punishments for parallel crimes committed by adults. An adult can be held accountable for recognizing that immigrating to a country illegally is wrong. A 2-year-old, on the other hand, knows not what he/she does. The DREAM Act recognizes that a child should not be penalized for entering this country illegally because their decision to enter was made without moral awareness or awareness of the legality of their actions. To answer question 3: Ana?s educational aspirations should not be sacrificed because of her parents' decision when she was an infant because her parents committed the crime, not her. After, understanding the telos of the DREAM Act we can discuss briefly the concept of citizenship. Since the age of 2, Ana has been acculturated into the norms and values of her environment, living in the United States. She has most likely bought things (i.e., she has paid sales tax to the state), gone to school (i.e., funded on tax dollars) and probably even lived a crime-free life (i.e., upheld the laws of the state). It can be assumed that the nationality that Ana ?knows? is the United States is the same as her California-born friends, what differentiates her is nothing more than where she was born. Her citizenship is therefore contingent on her participation in the society, not anyone else?s actions. To answer question 2: Ana?s eligibility to receive such public funds doesn?t depend on whether her parents have worked and contributed to society during their time in California because what is of concern is Ana?s participation and contribution to society, and assuming she did what all 16 year old California-born citizens normally do, she is more than eligible to receive the same public funds as her peers. Finally, the question (1) regarding whether it is fair for Ana to receive funding for school those other legal, documented California residents will receive. I argue yes, because in some capacity Ana has paid taxes, whether through sales tax, or her parents paying income tax and counting her as a dependent, it is her money that is also added to the pool of tax payer dollars that go toward funding college education. Her education from K-12 was tax payer funded and no differentiation was made regarding whether or not she should be allowed to enroll in school because of her citizenship. It does not follow that her college education funding be restricted because of her citizenship. One might counter-argue that college is different because it is optional and funding for college is also contingent on several factors such as one?s socioeconomic status, and in this case, residency. Ana may qualify for funding based on socioeconomic status but does not qualify as a resident. The response to this can be explained in a thought experiment. E.g., a baby is left at the doorstep of an orphanage in the United States. When the social worker at this orphanage comes to the door, she finds no one but a baby in a cradle and attached to this cradle is a note that reads: ?We immigrated to this country illegally and brought our child along. We are being deported and I don?t want my child to go back with us. We are leaving her here with you.? The social work takes the baby into the orphanage and helps find a home for this undocumented child. We do not know which country this baby was born in or which country she is a ?citizen? of, we only know that she was not born in the US. Do we deny her the opportunity to receive funding for college later in her life on the grounds of undocumented residency? What is to become of her? She cannot return to her ?home country,? because no one knows it. Is she to be a burden on the welfare system (which is also taxpayer funded) because should could not find work in a growing economy that now requires at the minimum a college degree? From a utilitarian perspective, a greater economic good is generated if Ana completes a college education than for her to be dependent on state-run social programs. From a deontological perspective, the state has a responsibility to its constituents and since Ana has been a ?citizen? of the society, she rightly deserves to receive state funding for her education. - Like - 162 people like this.
Ibrah Imovic said on May 28, 2012
Clearly the issue of illegal immigration is a touchy subject that has brought about much heated debate as to what is and what is not ?ethical?. The simple fact is that the basic human rights of those living in the US illegally should undeniably override the laws set in place to stop the exploitation of the US public systems. Looking at this issue from an ethical standpoint, shouldn?t those working to attain knowledge through legal means be rewarded rather than reprimanded? Our society feels that the funding required to educate these people who do not hold ?legal status? according to a few documented forms, outweighs any benefits that can be in turn given back to that society through educating that quote illegal individual. We must therefore looks at the ends rather than the means and in turn this case should rule in favor of Ana receiving the money regardless of her legality. - Like - 2 people like this.
Alex LeeNatali said on May 29, 2012
Its seems a serious mistake to deny a person an education solely based on their citizenship status, which was mostly not up to them. When children are brought across the border at very young ages by their families or parents, are they truly blameworthy for their actions? Should they be punished and exiled from our educational system? The children who grow up in America from very young ages are just as American as those who were born here. I recently went on the Tucson Immersion, while down there I met with a young man who was brought over when he was only a few months old. He lived in Seattle for 19 years, until he was pulled over and deported to Nogales. He knew very little Spanish, has no idea about the culture, and has no family or connections in Mexico. He is all alone. He was also a student at University of Washington studying sociology with hopes to become social worker. Is it fair for our society to deny undocumented immigrants when their own actions were not illegal, but those of their parents? Should the sons, in essence, bear the sins of their fathers? We do not hold minors as accountable for their actions as adults. It seems unfair we hold people accountable for their actions win they did not possess the consciousness to do otherwise. They cannot possess the mens rea to commit a crime. It seems our country waits until they grow up and then hold them accountable. - Like
James said on May 29, 2012
I hope the DREAM Act fails miserably. It rewards the parents for their illegal acts. I remember going to school in Southern California where illegal aliens got free books and in-state tuition while people who moved to Los Angeles from Alabama had to pay for their books and had to pay out of state tuition. How is that fair? It's not. Take away the gain that the parents get by freeloading on Americans who followed the rules. I don't think Americans have an obligation to educate, feed, clothe, or house anyone who manages to set foot on American soil. I think the parents should be punished for cheating the system with hard labor in prison, and their children should be sent to a country in need of more diversity such as Israel, Nigeria, North Korea, China, Kenya, India, or Japan. - Like - 2 people like this.
Miriam Schulman said on May 31, 2012
Kudos to Aisha for her thoughtful comments on The Dream Act case. She is this week's winner of the Big Q $100 Amazon gift certificate. - Like
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