The Dream Act: A Bad Idea!

By Lawrence P. Lataif, J.D., LL.M.  

On June 17, 2011, USCIS announced that it has decided to indirectly enact “The Dream Act” by administrative action, bypassing Congress in doing so. It took this step by issuing a memo revising and expanding its guidelines for prosecutorial discretion, by stating that it won’t deport those who are “pursuing education in the United States…” nor will it deport anyone who has served in the military or who has an immediate relative who has served.


Certain members of Congress are constantly calling for reconsideration and passage of The Dream Act. Others point out problems with it, like Senator Sessions (R-Ala.) states here.


While some aspects of the Dream Act have merit, any stand-alone immigration legislation is a terrible idea. Why? Because if comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) can ever see the light of day, there must be an absolute resistance to any aspect of immigration reform on a stand-alone basis. To do so will only lessen the interest in CIR of those who prevail, and double the resistance to CIR of those who feel cheated by a piece-meal and partisan enactment. Stand alone laws relating to “sealing the border” should be just as off-limits as The Dream Act, even though some aspects of both ideas would have to be included in a CIR package. Back door amnesty should be as much off the table as wholesale, front-door deportations.


Why aren’t members of Congress speaking out against any consideration of stand-alone bills instead of getting lured into a discussion of their merits? What is needed is a broad consensus in Congress that says: “nothing except CIR will be considered.” This will force all sides to sit down and work out a reasonable CIR package.