DREAM Act following ideals of American dream


Though rarely mentioned alongside the more lofty principles of the United States like liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no less important of a principle is that of the meritocracy, a society where position is based on ability. Unlike other systems like Confucianism and the divine right of kings, where an inadequate son can inherit a high ranking position from his father, a meritocracy allows for anyone with the ability to assume a high ranking position. This possibility for upward mobility is more often known as the American Dream.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, currently before Congress, is one of the most recent and most tangible examples. The DREAM Act will open up the possibility of becoming legal residents to millions of people who were brought to America illegally as children.

According to the bill, to be eligible the immigrant would have to meet a number of qualifications. They would have to be able to prove that they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 years old, have been in the United States at least five consecutive years, obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent, and have a “good moral character,” basically having a clean criminal record. Another important facet of this bill is that it only applies to those who have already been in the United States for at least five years from when the bill goes into effect.

If an applicant is found to be eligible under the bill, they are then given a temporary legal resident status have six years to either graduate from a community college, complete two years of a four-year degree program, or serve two years in the military. If they complete one of these options, they are then allowed to apply for a permanent legal resident status and, after that, citizenship. If they don’t complete one of the options, their temporary legal resident status would then be revoked, and they could be deported.

Opponents of the bill say this is unfair to those who have come to the United States legally. Why should people who have spent the time and money to come here legally when those who have come here illegally could be receiving similar benefits?

Beyond that, is it really fair for students who are already citizens to have to compete with students who are here illegally? Getting classes is already hard enough, but now we may be inundated with more students who aren’t even here legally.

To me this is a moot point, though. As a nation that believes in competition and judging someone based on their merits, we should welcome the challenge. If forcing me to try harder to compete with someone else not only makes me better but allows us to find another person who could be an asset to society, then I’m all for it.

Getting into the United States illegally and managing to stay here for more than five years is no easy feat, especially for those who make the journey from several countries away. If they’re able to make it here and stay here, aren’t they the type of person we should want to be in America? Especially because this bill specifically states that the applicant must have a “good moral character,” we should be accepting these people as making society better.

It’s America’s principle of acting as a meritocracy that allows anyone with the ability to become successful. It is the ability to chase the American Dream that draws people from around the world to America. The DREAM Act only encourages that principle.