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4 trillion and $3.6 trillion, an impressive boost to the U.S. economy in those years, the IPC explains. A study conducted by Arizona State University determined that when a person has a bachelor's degree that person earns about $750,000 more over the course of a lifetime of earning than a person with just a high school diploma earns.
The data from that study indicates that as of 2006, those working without a high school diploma earned approximately $419 per week and had an unemployment rate of 6.8%, the IPC explains. Those with a bachelor's degree earned approximately $962 per seek and their rate of unemployment was only 2.3%; over their careers college graduates earn "in excels of 60% more than a high school graduate, and workers with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much as high school graduates" (IPC, p. 2).
The Dream Act would remove the uncertainty of undocumented status from the individual allowing that person to earn higher wages and "move into higher-paying occupations"; moreover, the Dream Act would "save taxpayers money," the IPC explains on page 3. The Dream Act that was passed by the House (H. R. 6497) on December 7, 2010, would "reduce deficits by about $2.2 billion over the period 2011-2020," according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The Dream Act legislation that was introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 3992) on November 30, 2010, would "reduce deficits by about $1.4 billion" over the period from 2011 to 2020, the CBO explained.
In addition, there is more good economic news in terms of the possibility of Congress passing Dream Act legislation in 2011; a study by the respected RAND think tank indicates that by raising the college graduation rate of Hispanics "to that of non-Hispanic whites would increase spending on public education by 10% nationwide" (IPC, p. 3). However, that ten percent hike in education spending will be "more than offset by savings in public health and benefits, as well as increased tax revenues" that will result from higher incomes from workers, the RAND study reflected (IPC, p. 3). Another benefit in terms of economics would be from the fact that the drop-out rate for immigrant students in high school would likely be reduced; with the incentive that undocumented students would have to remain in school (because they could then attend college or join the military service) many more would continue on in high school. That means more educated workers, higher salaries, and more tax revenue into the federal coffers, according to the IPC on page 3.
There are still more benefits that the Immigration Policy Center puts forward: a) the Dream Act will "help universities" because students (immigrants) who qualify for college and universities under the Dream Act will increase school revenues; and b) the Dream Act will help military recruiting because of course hundreds of thousands of young men who are undocumented immigrants will be eligible to join the military once the legislation passes and is signed by the president.
Why do some politicians stubbornly refuse to support the Dream Act? (Opinions)
According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are members of Congress who oppose the Dream Act because they would like to see it not as stand-alone legislation, but rather as part of a "broader immigration reform" package. Some say that passing the Dream Act would "hamper the possibility of larger reform," but that seems a stretch, because there are many other aspects of immigration reform that need to be given consideration (border protection, worker permits in certain situations, possible amnesty for some immigrants, public facility usage like schools, healthcare services, and more) and can be addressed in a major piece of legislation.
The IPC also reports that "many Republicans have come under fire for supporting any form of immigration 'amnesty'" and conservatives see the Dream Act as "amnesty," albeit the Dream Act is not amnesty at all. If a politician from a "red" state (a state that tends to vote for Republicans / conservatives / the Tea Party) is being criticized in the press and at town hall meetings for supporting what appears to be a "liberal" idea, he or she will switch allegiance and vote against that measure. Right wing politicians will run like a deer from any suggestion that he or she is giving in to progressive causes. For many conservatives, the position that is most politically correct is generally to "get tough" on immigration, to "crack down" on those illegal immigrants who cross into the United States.
Senators that once supported the Dream Act -- like Senator John McCain of Arizona -- are changing their position on the Dream Act as their constituents take a hard line on immigration. McCain changed his position on the Dream Act when he was running against Barack Obama for president; McCain was playing up to the right wing of his party, and trying to get Tea Party votes, so he came out against the Dream Act.
What McCain has done is not leadership, this is giving in to the worst instincts of the electorate. If a United States Senator in any state sees that the Dream Act is going to be helpful to hundreds of thousands of young people who want a chance to participate in this society, why would that senator not show the leadership that his or her position suggests and explain to his or her constituency why this legislation is a good idea? Instead of bending backward to seem like he or she is going along with the hard liners by being tough on illegal immigration, it seems that a senator that originally believed in the Dream Act would stand up for his or her beliefs and do what is right and just.
One of the big political problems in America right now is the sharp polarization between conservatives and progressives, or between Republicans and Democrats. And the far right wing Tea Party is putting pressure on moderate Republicans to move farther to the right and support a hard line on immigration. This is part of what has derailed the Dream Act at this time. Rather than vote with their conscience, many politicians tend to vote with the tide of opinions that they think might get them re-elected. On the Web site "Latino Decisions" writer Matt Barreto explains that "among the 45 U.S. Senators who did not support moving ahead with the Dream Act," 6 were Democrats and 39 were Republicans. If the Democrats had stuck together and if only 3 Republicans had voted in favor of the Dream Act, Barreto writes, it would have passed in 2010, the president has said he would sign it immediately, and hundreds of thousands of high school students that currently are undocumented immigrants would be eligible to join the military, attend college, and get on the fast track to citizenship.
The interesting dynamic that Barreto alludes to on page 2 of his article is that "both senators from Texas and both senators from Arizona" voted against the Dream Act. In Texas some 36.9% of voters are Latino, so why did Senator Kay Hutchison decide to vote against 40% of her own constituency? In Arizona, Senator Kyle voted against the Dream Act when in fact over 30% of his constituency is Latino -- what are these senators thinking? It is obvious they fear the backlash of their more conservative constituency if they seem to be supporting a "liberal" cause like the Dream Act. Again, instead of educating their electorates as to the economic and social benefits of the Dream Act, these politicians stubbornly duck for cover by taking the easy road and going with the conservative tide.
An article in the Tucson Citizen points out that Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate from Nevada, retained his senate seat in a very close 2010 election thanks to the support of the vast majority of Latino votes. Reid's opponent, Sharron Angle, "depicted Latinos in a negative light," and thought she wouldn't need the Latino vote; but Angle, a Tea Party favorite, was defeated. Reid has supported the Dream Act from the very beginning.
President Obama says his administration "…Will not give up…"
"Obama's version of immigration changes not only include tighter security at the nation's borders, but a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here…"
David Jackson, 2011, USA Today
President Obama has been a firm supporter of the Dream Act for years. On the White House Blog (posted by Kori Schulman) the president asserted that the vote in the U.S. Senate against the Dream Act was "…an incredibly disappointing" vote. A small minority of Senators "prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country," the president explained. "My administration will not give up on the Dream Act," he said (Schulman, 2010). On another White House Blog (posted by Stephanie Valencia) the writer posts the…[continue]
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