Staff Editorial: State bill not a D.R.E.A.M. for immigrants

A bill has been brought before the New York State Senate and Assembly that, if passed, would grant certain illegal immigrants benefits like health insurance and tuition assistance if several conditions, including state residency prior to age 16 and the receipt of a high school diploma equivalent, are met.

The state bill comes after the failure of a very similar D.R.E.A.M. Act in the U.S. Senate that engendered considerable debate over the issue of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

The Lamron strongly opposes the D.R.E.A.M. Act for New York State, not because it is inherently unjust but because it would serve to perpetuate an inherently unjust and moribund system of legal immigration.

Illegal immigration is a significant problem facing the United States. The problem has been prolonged by the difficulties involved in receiving legal documentation and applying for citizenship, and because of this many aliens remain illegal during their entire tenure in the U.S. The children of some of these illegal aliens, meanwhile, become citizens automatically under the purview of jus soli, which confers citizenship on all children born on U.S. soil. When illegal aliens are discovered, it is not unusual for parents to face deportment while their legal children are allowed to remain or, sometimes, be taken into state custody. This situation breaks a family and burdens the state.

Further problems stem from current stereotypes of immigrants that pervade the American popular conscious: violent gangsters, lazy welfare abusers and near-slave hired help are all common conceptions of the illegal immigrant. In reality, the majority of aliens come to America seeking to work and work hard because they face dire economic circumstances in their home countries. The D.R.E.A.M. Act, which would confer vast benefits upon illegal immigrants but stop short of citizenship, could stand to reinforce said stereotypes in the mind of an already jaded public.

Not insignificantly, national security must also be considered. Documents are not difficult to fake for those with resources, and it is difficult to ascertain whether a candidate meets residency requirements. It's reasonable to consider that gangs like MS 13 or even terrorist cells could exploit the relatively lax provisions of the Act in order to strengthen their own violent interests.

While the spirit of the D.R.E.A.M. Act is certainly noble, the flaws inherent to the current system of obtaining citizenship compounded by the brief and forgiving provisions of the bill itself make its passage in New York an unsupportable decision.