Is The U.S. Ready For Real Immigration Reform?

“It’s a dream come true, basically, because I put my heart and soul into this issue,” 22-year-old Misael Garcia told Raw Story.

He was talking about the Maryland DREAM Act, which was passed by the legislature last year, and on November 6 was approved by the voters of Maryland. The measure allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at the state’s public universities.

Maryland is now the 12th state to pass such legislation. The other 11 are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

However, Maryland stands out because it is the first state to affirm its law by popular vote.

This vote was also unusual for other reasons. As Raw Story explains:

What is perhaps more remarkable is that, in an election year marked by high Latino voter turnout, Maryland is a state with a lower-than-national average Latino-identified population. Just 8.4 percent of Marylander’s identify as Hispanic or Latino compared with 16.7 percent nationally, according to the latest Census data.

“This is an issue that overwhelmingly affects Hispanic voters, but there are not just Hispanics who are affected by this,” Kristin Ford, communications director of the Educating Maryland Kids coalition which worked on Maryland’s DREAM Act passage, told Raw Story. She said voters largely saw it as an issue of fairness. If these families paid taxes in Maryland and lived in Maryland, undocumented students should pay in-state tuition in Maryland.

Is Maryland paving the way for broader immigration reform?

Such reform would also lead to economic benefits. A study from the University of Maryland Baltimore County estimated that  passing the state DREAM Act would result in an additional $5 million per graduating class.

The story repeats itself nationally. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, passage of the DREAM Act  would create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030 and would also add $329 billion to the US economy.

The federal DREAM Act offers a path to citizenship for young people who came to America as children and attend college or join the military and don’t have a criminal record. President Barack Obama signed an executive order earlier this year to stop the deportation of young people who fit these qualifications.

The DREAM Act was first introduced into Congress over a decade ago. More recently, when Democrats tried to get the legislation through Congress in 2010, Republicans blocked the immigration reform measure in the Senate. But now, after an election that saw President Obama winning 75 percent of Latino votes, while Mitt Romney espoused strong anti-immigrant positions, several leading Republicans have come out in favor of immigration reform: House Speaker John Boehner, Former Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour, radio host Sean Hannity.

From ThinkProgress:

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who is running for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Politico that Republicans will have to change how they reach out to Latino voters. “In some fashion, the way we have dealt with immigration gives us a black eye. And we need to figure out how to talk about issues and pursue policies that matter to Latino, Hispanic voters,” he said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee, described it as a “breakthrough” that Boehner is willing to work on immigration reform, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has vowed to pass an immigration law.

The federal DREAM Act has been close to passage twice before. Now thousands of activists around the country are ready to mobilize when Congress decides to take it up again.


Care2 Related Coverage

DREAMers Could Actually Boost The U.S. Economy By $300 Billion

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs DREAM Act, Part One

After DREAM Act Defeat, Advocates Fight For Educational Equality


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

I have high hopes that those who are willing to work, follow the laws, come here legally and pay taxes will be accepted one day, and not repeatedly lumped in with those who do drugs, murder, steal, evade taxes, live off the government ect. There ARE immigrants who have as much right to be here as we do. We are the melting pot for a reason. However, if the break laws and cause issues, they should get a one way pass to a prison in their home country.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Pamela T., my grandfather was a Finnish immigrant so I understand too. Back in 1902 things were different than today.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Also note that many immigrants have dual citizenship. They have more ability to work than some life-long American. If we in America our whole lives can't get jobs here, we are dead meat. At least a foreigner can go home or to Canada, etc.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

Let us make jobs for immigrants before we let them in OK? In fact, we can do what most of the world does formally or informally, hire Americans (existing citizens or permanent residents) first.

Barbara Mathes
Barbara Mathes5 years ago

Don't want them in my country, they are sucking this country dry If they want kids let them pay for them, health, schooling and everything else Most of all we speak English here and only English!

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

I Hope so . . . . . .

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

Robert C., sex/family planning education and freely available contraception are essential within any society to bring birth rates down to replacement levels or under - this is important to both human and ecological survival.

If we could all produce no more than 2 children, with no unwanted pregnancies, many concerns would be reduced - we need to get rid of the anti-science/women/contraception/abortion fanatic's/racist's interference in policy and discussion, once and for all...

And slavery! is again a problem in some areas of the US!

The immigration issue MUST be sorted out humanely and sensibly and, as Pamela T. correctly points out, ALL workers in America must be protected against abuses.

The situation in some parts of the United States is appalling, and all areas of all States need to be dragged into the current century where human rights are concerned.

This is not negotiable - the US does not need to maintain the 3rd-world banana Republic status some groups are fighting so hard to achieve in what's supposed to be an industrialized, modern democracy.

natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

if the reformation helps to manage the unchecked influx and unregulated human rights discrepancies then so be it. but there has to be stricter forms of immigration as the states also has to manage the incoming ones.

Robert C.
Robert Cruder5 years ago

When one adds cylinders to an automobile engine, does one question whether they “want” to work as hard as the existing ones? One DOES ask if the automobile NEEDS more horsepower at a cost of fuel consumption and air pollution. A rational person would similarly question third-world immigration.

Technology and conservation lag behind the environmental pollution and resource demands of an exploding U.S. population. Governments cannot expand education or infrastructure to match fertility.

Almost all the growth since 1970 has been from first and second generation third-world immigrants. They may not want the U.S. to have a third world standard of living or environmental squalor but they have voted for that result with their feet and with their gonads.

If the third world brings babies into an overcrowded and degraded environment and the first world quietly absorbs that overflow, first world population WILL grow at third world rates while consuming at first world levels. Those evil greedy corporations are merely satisfying the resulting demand. Would one have both old and new consumers freeze and starve in the dark?

Many readers want environmental protection, reproductive choice and open borders but have not stated by what magic they can coexist.

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY Allen5 years ago

Christopher M. and Pamela T., reading your posts just makes my head hurt. Let's just say, I totally disagree with everything you have to say.