College-educated and illegal: Immigrants pin job hopes on DREAM Act
For most college educated illegal immigrants, landing a good job proves difficult. The DREAM Act would help some of them, but critics decry it as step toward a broad amnesty.
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The bill would benefit students and graduates who have been in the country from a young age and have integrated considerably into American society, says Jeanne Batalova, a policy analyst at MPI. It would also offer an incentive to those still in elementary and high school to continue their education or join the military. At the same time, Ms. Batalova says, the bill imposes tough conditions. She estimates that fewer than half of those eligible would likely be able to take advantage of the opportunity.Skip to next paragraph
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"Going to college might be difficult from a financial point of view," she says. "And for many, the military route might not be an option."
The DREAM Act also has attracted powerful opposition. Although immigration reform enjoys support in the US – a Pew Hispanic Center survey last year found that 63 percent of Americans favored offering illegal residents a path to citizenship – many conservatives object to the DREAM Act as a step down a slippery slope toward amnesty for illegal immigrants. "Amnesty has never been a good way to solve the illegal immigration problem," says Jena McNeill of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
Justin Pulliam, president of the Texas Aggie Conservatives, a student group at Texas A&M University, goes to school in the state with the second-highest number of illegal immigrants and some of the most liberal education policies. It allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state schools. Last month Mr. Pulliam persuaded a majority of his school's student Senate to vote against the policy, which is also part of the DREAM Act. He's sympathetic to the predicament of undocumented students, but he worries that the bill would only encourage people to break the law.
"It is sad, but at the end of the day, it's not the responsibility of American citizens to take care of anyone else from any other country," he says.
The problem of undocumented students affects a growing roster of states. Most illegal immigrants live in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, or New York. But there are also significant numbers in Illinois, New Jersey, and a number of states that have only recently become destinations for illegal immigration, including Nevada, Oregon, Maryland, Georgia, and North Carolina.