With state and local governments rummaging between the couch cushions for loose change, they might want to consider a measure that would also please immigrant activists: the DREAM Act.
Because the bill would give young people who were brought here illegally as children access to higher education, it would also give government access to their higher wages. Up to $3.6 trillion in higher wages, estimates the University of California at Los Angeles.
But some Republicans, who criticize the bill as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, may stand in the way.
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Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez told Politico he's pushing Congress and President Barack Obama to push the DREAM Act forward. "What
we said to him was, 'We know you're for comprehensive immigration
reform. We have a window. It's closing. Be for this. Let's all be for
this specific part,' " Gutierrez said.
Not all conservatives are against the DREAM Act. The Arizona Group "Conservatives for the DREAM Act" says the law would increase the tax burden shouldered by illegal immigrants, upping the amount of taxes they pay and lowering their dependence on government entitlements.
The group says the DREAM Act isn't amnesty. "It is earned citizenship that is
based upon conditions: maintaining good moral standing combined with
hard work," reads the organization's position paper.
And they pointed out something I hadn't realized before: The DREAM Act doesn't use federal taxpayer dollars. The act would allow states to give financial aid to undocumented students and also allow those students to get federal student loans and work study grants. It wouldn't give those students access to federal education grants, like Pell Grants.
With a vote coming up in the U.S. House of Representatives November 29th, it's unclear if there will be just enough support to pass the DREAM Act. But with midterms out of the way and many legislators in their last-ever legislative session, perhaps this dream has a chance of becoming a reality.
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