Gerson: "The Dream Act Transcends Politics"


In his December 7 Washington Post column, Michael Gerson, columnist and former aide to President George W. Bush, argued that Republicans should support the DREAM Act:

The Dream Act now before Congress is similarly clarifying. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have gotten a GED. They would be given a conditional legal status for six years, in which they must complete two years of college or serve at least two years in the military. If they failed to meet the requirements - or committed a crime (other than a non-drug-related misdemeanor) - they would lose their legal status and could be deported. If they succeeded, they would be granted a green card and could apply for citizenship.

It would be difficult to define a more sympathetic group of potential Americans. They must demonstrate that they are law-abiding and education-oriented. Some seek to defend the country they hope to join. The Defense Department supports the Dream Act as a source of quality volunteers. Business groups welcome a supply of college-educated workers. The Department of Homeland Security endorses the legislation so it can focus on other, more threatening, groups of illegal immigrants.


No one is proposing the mass deportation of this particular group, which would be last on the target list of even the most enthusiastic immigration restrictionist. The actual choice is between allowing these young men and women to develop their talents and serve in the military, or not.

Whatever its legislative fate, the Dream Act is effective at stripping away pretense. Opponents of this law don't want earned citizenship for any illegal immigrant - even those personally guilty of no crime, even those who demonstrate their skills and character. The Dream Act would be a potent incentive for assimilation. But for some, assimilation clearly is not the goal. They have no intention of sharing the honor of citizenship with anyone called illegal - even those who came as children, have grown up as neighbors and would be willing to give their lives in the nation's cause.

During the current lame-duck session of Congress, Republicans have been correct to emphasize economic concerns, which the public prioritized in the recent election. But supporting the Dream Act would send a useful message - that some Republicans in victory are capable of governing for the sake of everyone.

Posted In
Immigration, Immigration Reform
The Washington Post
Michael Gerson
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