Fair Treatment for Undocumented Students

Education is often said to be a key to success and one of the best ways to realize the American Dream. However, approximately 50,000-65,000 foreign-born students graduate from U.S. high schools each year only to realize that their diplomas do not grant them access to higher education. These students – among them valedictorians and award winners – are prevented from pursuing their educations because their parents brought them to the United States without legal status. About 1.1 million students are undocumented, representing 2 percent of the total student population. NOTE 1 Most often these students entered the country when they were too young to understand how they arrived. Currently, there are no avenues for them to acquire legal status or become citizens because they cannot obtain family-based sponsorship from their undocumented parents. The obstacles these students face concern many community members, including teachers, public officials, and immigrant advocates. In response to this problem, lawmakers of both parties have proposed solutions.

The DREAM Act and the Student Adjustment Act
Two bipartisan measures have been introduced in the 108th Congress to address the needs of undocumented students: the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) and the Student Adjustment Act, both of which are now pending in Congress. The DREAM Act, S. 1545, was introduced in the Senate by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) on July 31, 2003. This bill would grant “conditional permanent resident” status to students who came to the United States prior to the age of 16, have lived in the United States for at least five years at the time of enactment, graduated from high school, and demonstrated good moral status. Conditional permanent residence is different from lawful permanent residence in that it would be awarded for a period of six years instead of indefinitely. Time spent by students in conditional permanent resident status would count towards the residency requirements for naturalization to U.S. citizenship. An extension would be granted after the six-year period upon a showing of good cause. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security would have the power to waive the conditional residence requirement altogether if compelling reasons prevent their completion and if the removal of the student would result in extreme hardship to the student’s spouse, parent, or child.
The companion to the DREAM Act, the Student Adjustment Act, H.R. 1684, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Chris Cannon (R-UT), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) on April 9, 2003. The bill would allow young people under 21 years of age to adjust to permanent resident status if they have lived in the United States for at least five years, are in 7th grade or above, and have good moral character. In addition, it would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to again permit states to determine residency for in-state tuition purposes. Thus, students would be able to afford the rising costs of higher education, the dream that they have worked for so many years to attain.

A Matter of Fairness
The DREAM Act (and the Student Adjustment Act) is based on the principle that it is unfair to punish children for the actions of their parents. The courts have found that “legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility wrongdoing” [Weber v. Aetna Causalty and Surety Co. 406 U.S. 164, 175 (1972)] and that undocumented children “can affect neither their parents’ conduct nor their own status” [Plyer v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 220 (1982)]. NOTE 2 Thus, undocumented students cannot be held liable for an immigration status that resulted from their parents’ actions, and the federal government cannot continue to punish them by denying the opportunity for adjustment of status and a higher education.
It also would be unfair to deny undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates because they, like other state residents, pay taxes that support public universities. The Internal Revenue Service began issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers in 1996, with Congressional support, so that undocumented immigrants could pay taxes. Since then, about 7 million undocumented immigrants have contributed to the tax pool. NOTE 3 Some state governments have realized that the parents of undocumented students continually pay state taxes, as opposed to parents of out-of-state students. Since these students are raised in-state, they will most likely remain in the state after graduation and therefore provide increased tax revenues as members of an educated workforce.
Moreover, the DREAM Act would not give preferential treatment to undocumented immigrants. If the DREAM Act is passed, then undocumented immigrants would compete in the college-applicant pool along with other state residents, non-residents, and foreign students. The most qualified students would be selected and the rest would have to pursue their educational dreams by attending a different porno university or community college.
Benefits of the DREAM Act
Equal Opportunity: The DREAM Act would provide undocumented students with the same opportunity as their classmates to become productive members of society.
Reduced Drop-Out Rates: Because of their immigration status and the associated barriers to higher education, undocumented students are more likely to drop out of high school than students who are U.S. citizens. The high drop-out rate of students in the United States costs taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars each year. If the DREAM Act is enacted, it would help lower drop-out rates and motivate undocumented students to continue their education after graduation from high school.
Fiscal Advantages: By increasing the number of students who graduate from high school, the DREAM Act would increase tax revenues and reduce government expenses. A 1999 study by the RAND Corporation found that an average, middle-aged immigrant woman who graduates from college pays $5,300 more in taxes and uses $3,900 less in criminal justice and social welfare services each year than if she had dropped out of high school, amounting to a fiscal contribution of $9,200.

Economic Advantages: Demographers and economists such as Alan Greenspan have stated that the United States is facing a long-term labor crunch that will threaten our economy in decades to come. This means a shortage of workers in teaching, nursing, the service sector, and other occupations. The beneficiaries of the DREAM Act could be a part of the solution to this problem because they will most likely become productive workers, homeowners, and investors. NOTE 5

Conclusion
The DREAM Act would provide undocumented students with the same opportunities as other students, thereby helping them to realize the American Dream. These accomplished individuals deserve to be rewarded for doing the right thing, not punished. We as a society would benefit a great deal from investing in further educating undocumented students so they can reach their full potential. Giving them this opportunity also provides them with the skills and knowledge needed by the U.S. economy.

How To Work Effectively to Stop Mass Immigration

I. FOCUS ON OUR MOST POWERFUL (& POSITIVE!)

REASONS FOR STOPPING MASS IMMIGRATION

CCN and the other ASAP! Coalition members are fortunate because we have the most convincing and positive reasons for stopping mass immigration.

All members of the ASAP! Coalition advocate U.S. population stabilization. We know how many benefits would be achieved by stabilization. We can talk truthfully about the benefits of population stabilization, including environmental protection, budget relief, reduction of ethnic tensions, reduced costs for schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure, and, not the least, providing the necessary conditions for the long-term sustainability of the U.S.A. at a reasonable standard of living and quality of life.

The fact is that if an organization’s goal is U.S. population stabilization, the most generous immigration position it can unhypocritically advocate is a moratorium on all immigration in excess of 100,000 per year, because this is the highest legal immigration level which would make U.S. population stabilization possible. The rationale for this position is explained in more detail elsewhere in this Series.


II. “IMMIGRATION REFORM LITE”

UNDERCUTS GOALS AND CLOUT

Any organization which does not advocate, as a first priority, a moratorium on all legal immigration in excess of 100,000 per year is just kidding around, much to the detriment of those who are sincere. That organization is not really serious about achieving U.S. population stabilization.

Failure to advocate a low, all-inclusive number undercuts our most convincing rationale for a moratorium — that U.S. population stabilization is a necessary, absolutely essential step toward protecting the environment for the long term and achieving a sustainable economy to secure our children’s future.

The most ineffective and counterproductive positions in the immigration reform movement are those which would not lead to stabilization or which undercut those positions that do. Some national immigration “reform” organizations fail to advocate positions which would achieve their ostensible goals. It is thus not surprising that the immigration reduction movement has not had any significant victories for over two decades. Indeed, one national organization does not push any particular numerical limit at all! This undercuts other organizations that try to give activists, and members of Congress, a “rallying point” number that incorporates a rationale for lower numbers.

III. ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD NOT TAKE POSITIONS

WHICH UNDERCUT OUR SUPPORTERS IN CONGRESS

An elementary principle of successfully lobbying for immigration reduction is that organizations should not take positions on immigration levels which are higher than the numbers which are contained in the bills sponsored by our allies in Congress who support reductions.

If “reform” organizations do take such “higher” positions, they not only undercut the efforts of our Congressional allies, but also eliminate all leverage we would gain by advocating numbers lower than our Congressional supporters’. Incredibly, one national organization is pushing such a higher position.>

Example: The recommendation by one national immigration “reform” organization that we build a coalition of members of Congress to consider the recommendations for legal immigration reduction made by the Jordan Commission is counterproductive. (See below: The Jordan Commission recommended legal immigration of 700,000 annually, whereas the best and most-forward-looking legislation currently before Congress targets 300,000 annually.)

Undercut #1

Late last Summer, one national organization recommended in a fundraising letter that we “build a coalition of members of Congress to at least begin considering the recommendations for legal immigration reduction made by Barbara Jordan’s national bi-partisan commission.”

But the primary recommendation of the Jordan Commission is that the level of legal immigration be 700,000/year/annually. Thus, advocating the Jordan Commission’s number undercuts the pending Tancredo Moratorium Bill (HR 2712) which caps legal immigration at 300,000/year. Pushing for the Jordan Commission’s numbers or similar numbers not only undercuts the numbers in the Moratorium Bill (HR 2712), it undercuts our allies in Congress who co-sponsor it!

Indeed, advocacy of the Jordan Commission’s numbers undercuts the entire tradition of advocacy of much lower numbers by our allies in Congress. Rep. Bob Stump (R-Az), for example, introduced bills in several sessions of Congress in the 1990’s, which would have both enacted a moratorium and capped numbers at a level much lower than the Jordan Commission.

Indeed, while the Commission in general and the heroic Barbara Jordan in particular did admirable work, the political document produced after her death, and the numbers of legal immigrants recommended — about 700,000 per year — even if enacted, are not nearly low enough to ever allow U.S. population to stabilize. From a political perspective, starting with such a relatively high number provides no environmental carrying capacity rationale and no political leverage whatsoever for lower numbers.

Focusing on the Jordan Commission’s recommendations in general would direct attention away from our side’s rationale for much lower numbers: protection of future generations, the economy, and the environment that sustain them.

It should be noted that there were some good recommendations in the Jordan Report — that the INS be split into an “enforcement” division and a “service division,” for example. But unqualified advocacy of the Jordan Commission’s recommendations is counterproductive.

Undercut #2

The currently pending HR 2712 would explicitly “enact a moratorium” on most categories of immigration, and limit the rest. But two national organizations refuse to explicitly push the moratorium that HR 2712 would enact, although one half heartedly says it supports the bill. How can reductionists ever achieve significant reductions unless they communicate the message that the U.S.A. is “full” and we need no more mass immigration. And how can we support those members of Congress who sponsor the “moratorium” explicit in HR 2712 unless we explicitly push a moratorium.

Regardless of how many “professional lobbyists” a “reform” organization has on The Hill, hamstringing them by not allowing them to explicitly push a moratorium negates their effectiveness in obtaining reductions.

Undercut #3

That national organization advocating trying to create a coalition of members of Congress to re-examine the Jordan Commission’s recommendations may not be aware that those Jordan recommendations were discussed by Congress and the Clinton Administration prior to the 1996 bill. Those recommendations incorporated the principle of incremental reductions, and reductions in some categories.

But those immigration “reform” organizations’ path of starting high (as, e.g., with the Jordan Commission’s recommendations) with the hope of achieving incremental reductions or reductions in some categories is a failed path, as has been demonstrated repeatedly for over 20 years. Indeed, one organization pushed a bill which capped the numbers at 780,000 in 1996 — predictably, we got no reductions.

Advocates for reducing immigration who truly want to be effective need to argue for the most persuasive rationale: 100,000 legal immigrants a year for five years followed by 200,000 a year (and a moratorium on all categories above those), because these are the highest numbers that would ever allow the United States’ population to eventually stabilize. Pushing a position which incorporates the failed strategy of 1996 and earlier years undercuts those organizations and the members of Congress who are pushing positions which can succeed, if all organizations get behind them.


IV. HOW TO GET SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION, AND HOW NOT TO

Tactical Point #1

Advocating “reforms” or reductions only in certain categories of immigrants without advocating an all-inclusive moratorium is ineffective, because it implicitly grants the opposition’s basic premise: that some substantial level of mass immigration is good. Only the word and concept “moratorium” communicates the message: The U.S.A. is full, we want no more mass immigration.
The opposition must be asked to justify any substantial level of immigration. Advocating a moratorium as our “default position” forces the opposition to justify exceptions to this position. And, while they may be able to justify some immigration (of some law-abiding spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, for example), they certainly cannot justify mass immigration that drives explosive U.S. population growth with all its negative consequences for national security, the environment, and the economy.

Only if we explicitly advocate an all-inclusive moratorium do we force the opposition to engage in such a basic examination and attempted justification of mass immigration. The only bill in Congress which would result in a substantial reduction in overall numbers is HR 2712 — an all-inclusive explicit “Moratorium” Bill. It is, thus, counterproductive to support any other bill or any position with higher numbers.

Tactical Point #2

Since bills increasing mass immigration may pop up under as-yet-unknown euphemisms, the only way to effectively anticipate and oppose such bills is to advocate an all-encompassing moratorium and only a moratorium. That not only puts pressure on any and all immigration-increasing bills, but also generates pressure for lower numbers at the same time! No other position has all these positives…. A Moratorium Bill anticipates and foils circumvention.

Tactical Point #3

The immigration “reform” movement’s unblemished record of legislative losses over the past two decades can be traced in large part to pushing for reductions using the “category approach.” Merely opposing a specific increase in any particular category, e.g., H-1B visas, asylees, or extended family members, is almost always a strategic, tactical, political, and public relations mistake. Such use of a “category approach” implicitly sends the counterproductive message that the current phenomenon of mass immigration (of over one million legal immigrants per year) is more or less acceptable, because reduction of only a few categories is advocated.

This “category approach” to “reform” plays into the hands of the opposition — the proponents of mass immigration. Trying to reduce individual categories results in the ultimate numbers being the outcome of horse trading, pressure tactics, and intense lobbying by wealthy special interests — areas in which our opposition is skilled, powerful, and well financed.

If the immigration “reform” organization you support fails to explicitly push a moratorium as the first priority, ask them how they can effectively oppose all the different bills (including those with deceptive titles like “regularization,” which would increase immigration) without explicitly supporting an all-inclusive moratorium. And ask them how they expect realistically to achieve any reductions (in light of 20 years of failure to do so) without advocating an all-inclusive moratorium.

Why should any of us support policies which do not work??