US Ed Secretary makes last-ditch push for DREAM Act

I participated in a quick media call Friday morning with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan who is making a last-ditch effort to persuade the Senate to pass the DREAM Act when it votes today. Duncan called it an historical vote and said he was hopeful that the bill will pass.

The Senate, in an unusual Saturday session, is taking up two controversial bills today, the DREAM Act, which is being debated now, and the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.

Duncan’s call with reporters was part of an overall White House push this week for DREAM Act passage.  The House passed the act last week, a vote that Duncan said shifted the momentum in favor of the controversial legislation that creates a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

It applies to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their 16th birthday. To qualify, they  must graduate from high school, enter college or into the military, and stay out of trouble.

The DREAM Act was written by both Republicans and Democrats. Saying he has made a number of calls to senators, Duncan argued that the DREAM Act is “important to our nation” and “a very personal battle” because of the undocumented students he met while CEO of the Chicago public schools. In fact, he said he and his wife created a small scholarship fund for such students who now face many obstacles in affording college.

“The door of opportunity was basically shut to them,” he said. “It was devastating to see those dreams go away. These are young people who have done everything right, who have played by all the rules.”

Duncan said the act would affect 65,000 high school graduates each year. “To have their energy, ingenuity and entrepreneurship unleashed first through the chance to go to college and then in the workforce will not just change the fortunes of them and their families in their communities but will be a tremendous benefit to the country. It is not just the right thing for the 65,000 students, it is the right thing to do for our country. ”

The act faces opposition because of the costs it may entail and its access to U.S. citizenship for children brought here illegally.  A report issued by the Center for Immigration Studies states, “Given the low income of illegal immigrants, most can be expected to attend state schools, with a cost to taxpayers in the billions of dollars. As both funds and slots are limited at state universities and community colleges, the act may reduce the educational opportunities available to U.S. citizens.”

The center contends that “1.03 million illegal immigrants will eventually enroll in public institutions (state universities or community colleges) as a result of the DREAM Act. That is, they met the residence and age requirements of the act, have graduated high school, or will do so, and will come forward.On average each illegal immigrant who attends a public institution will receive a tuition subsidy from taxpayers of nearly $6,000 for each year he or she attends for total cost of $6.2 billion a year, not including other forms of financial assistance that they may also receive.”

A close vote is expected this morning in the Senate.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

135 comments Add your comment

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 17th, 2010
10:54 am

Before all the hateful messages start appearing here, let me say that I hope those who oppose this act will understand how much good it stands to do for the whole country.
And for those who may start screaming about unfairness to kids born in this country, I ask that you consider the children who came here without a choice and have since chosen to do everything that good citizens do. It’s time they get a fair shake.

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
10:56 am

What I dream about as an educator is that I wish some of the illegals would learn to speak English. I also would like to dream that Ga was not in 2 billion dollar short fall. I would also like to dream that the health care law, which is expected to cost 6.5 billion from GA taxpayers, would not take away from the rest of the budget. The reality is, with these short falls hanging over our heads as GA taxpayers, there is no way we can afford all of these “dreams”. I have been cut and my classroom has been cut. The last think I need is more cuts and more students that cannot speak the language to pass courses.

Lee

December 17th, 2010
10:59 am

“In fact, he [Duncan] said he and his wife created a small scholarship fund for such students [ILLEGAL ALIENS]…”

So, we have the US Secretary of Education on record admitting to aiding and abetting CRIMINALS.

There are already paths to US citizenship for those outside this country who wish to immigrate. For years, the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to secure our borders and now wants a mulligan.

Don’t let them get away with it. Call your Senators today.

NoDreamAct

December 17th, 2010
10:59 am

The Dream Act has special waivers that enable Obama, Napolitano, and Holder to grant conditional non-immigrant status not only to the 10 – 30 million illegal aliens currently present, but also to any and all who might penetrate our porous borders in the years to come.

ALL the strict requirements are for receiving citizenship in 10 years. There is nothing required more than filling out a form.

The effect on jobs would be immediate. Tens of millions more in competition with 22 unemployed American citizens.

The effect on higher education would be immediate: Millions more competing for 2 million 4-year college seats in the whole U.S.

The effect on future immigration would be immediate. Already immigration lawyers and visa agencies are advertising the “Dream Act Amnesty”.

What if

December 17th, 2010
11:13 am

An anecdote of one: my other half, in her final few years of her career, teaches gifted and AP English at what is apparently one of Gwinnett’s strongest high schools. One of her very best students is actually from an African country, having been brought by her parents at an early age. She is not a citizen. Her family is FAR from well-to-do. Before all this noise in Georgia, her 4.0+ gpa and 2300+ SAT would have walked her into a slew of very top schools. Fortunately, she’s found a very good college that doesn’t have to listen to Georgia’s bigots. But the Dream Act would do no harm for her future – and America’s. (Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry, etc. – how does that go?)

Sam

December 17th, 2010
11:15 am

South Ga Teacher, they do have the learn the language. In order to graduate, you have to pass GHSGTs (including writing). The tests are only offered in English.

kgolden

December 17th, 2010
11:16 am

All this hatred and vitriol directed towards individuals who did nothing other than hold their parents’ hands when crossing into the U.S. Last time I checked, children could not be charged with crimes because they lack the specific intent to commit a crime. So spare me all the “amnesty for lawbreakers!!!” excrement.

I know that we as a country are going through difficult economic times. I get that. But it is inexcusable to level blame at illegal immigrants ESPECIALLY the children who had no say in whether or not to come to the U.S. Has anyone seriously thought about the benefits to this country, i.e,, harnessing the work ethic and creative drive of a segment of our population that is itching to fully assimilate and contribute to this country but cannot because current immigration law provides NO OPTIONS to fix their situation? After all, this country has made an investment in their high school education, correct? I would rather see dividends for that investment paid to the U.S. than to their home country.

Lastly, how someone views this position says a lot about what type of heart and soul they possess. The America that I love and value will find a way to give these children an opportunity. They were brought here by their parents because for many years U.S. businesses were hiring without regard to legal documentation and our U.S. immigration system lacked a generic and usable guest worker visa program like other first world countries. For years all of us have benefited from lower cost groceries and housing by virtue of the presence of illegal immigrants. If Congress had the cojones to acknowledge that our current system works poorly and would just focus on a solution that incorporates much stronger border security then it would be in our best interests rather than propping up this dysfunctional immigration system we currently have.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:19 am

HOw will this allow more undocumented people to come over here? That really doesn’t make any sense. This about it guys, the bill says it allows “children who came here under the age of 16 and who have gone to highschool here and graduated, must have resided in the US for 5 consecutive years” So think about it, anyone new who did come here would not fall under this law because you do have to show proof of education whether it be your middle school, highschool records, etc. Im sure immigration will be looking into these school records to make sure they are not false. So in reality, this really isn’t hurting anyone. Would you guys rather have these kids just be useless to this country and just continue to do nothing? I hear students contimplating suicide if this law doesn’t pass because their future will be nothing and they can’t even go back to their country only because they do know it or the language. Guys, I’m American, but seriously I put myself in their shoes, I think to myself “what if this was me and my children couldn’t do anything with their lives all because of my mistake?” I personally, would hate myself for making my children pay for something I did. As a human being we should always have sympathy for children. We can not blame them for what their parents did.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Diamond and Parkside Parents, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: US Ed Secretary makes last-ditch push for DREAM Act http://bit.ly/ggFSIa [...]

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
11:20 am

Duh..I know that, but many cannot because of the technical language in some of the subject matter like science. The point is WE NO LONGER HAVE THE RESOURCE TO THINK WE CAN CREATE DREAMS FOR THESE ILLEGAL FOLKS…WE NEED TO INVEST IN OUR OWN CITZENS. The cow has no more milk and this is no longer the land of pleanty!

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:24 am

#How will this allow more undocumented people to come over here? That really doesn’t make any sense. Think about it guys, the bill says it allows “children who came here under the age of 16 and who have gone to highschool here and graduated, must have resided in the US for 5 consecutive years” So think about it, anyone new who did come here would not fall under this law because you do have to show proof of education whether it be your middle school, highschool records, etc. Im sure immigration will be looking into these school records to make sure they are not false. So in reality, this really isn’t hurting anyone. Would you guys rather have these kids just be useless to this country and just continue to do nothing? I hear students contemplating suicide if this law doesn’t pass, because their future will be nothing and they wont even be able to go back to their country only because they do know it or the language. Guys, I’m American, but seriously I put myself in their shoes, I think to myself “what if this was me and my children couldn’t do anything with their lives all because of my mistake?” I personally, would hate myself for making my children pay for something I did. As a human being we should always have sympathy for children. We can not blame them for what their parents did.

p.s. Sorry for the misspelling, sent from my phone.

Sam

December 17th, 2010
11:27 am

South GA teacher – at our school, 100% of our ESOL students pass GHSGTs eventually. Most come to us with no English. They are very hard workers.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:28 am

I mean I see what your saying. But I heard and read somewhere that the economy would rise if this law did pass. I read somewhere they would charge over $3000 dollars a student to make this happen, how much money would the US make off hundres, thousands, of kids. There are over 65,000 undocumented students who graduate highschool a year. Thats a lot of money. Plus, Obama is signing the tax cut bill today. So I’m sure the cow will start producing more milk =)

catlady

December 17th, 2010
11:33 am

I think a number of folks are embarrassed because some of these kids out-work and out-achieve their own kids.

HS Public Teacher

December 17th, 2010
11:35 am

I am not at all trying to be mean or say anything hurtful, but….

Why cannot these children apply for citizenship the standard way? Is there something standing in their way of doing this?

If there is no obstacle for them, then I really would disagree with the “dream” act. Must we create more levels of government and more paperwork?

Atlanta Media Guy

December 17th, 2010
11:37 am

If the illegals get the dream act, what do the legals get? Higher taxes? More difficult chance to get into a state school? My family has paid their fair share for generations. How about the folks that came here legally, what do they get. See how this goes?

I’m sorry these illegal kids were forced to come here with their parents. This is a silly grab at power by the Dems and more voters for them. Just think every election we’ll have to hear the Dems talk about how evil the conservatives are, since they will want to take the Dream Act away. It’s a power grab by the left and they are trying to ram it down our throats as the holidays approach and in a lame duck session. The Dems know there is no chance of this Act to pass once the new congress is sworn in. This is by far the worst lame duck session ever! I’m for an act that says once an election is held in November, congress does not meet again until the peoples choices are sworn in. Between the feds and the DCSS interim super wanting a 40% raise in one day, there is no hope for this great country, THERE IS NO MORE MONEY TO SPEND! THE TAXPAYERS HAVE BEEN TAXED AND WE VOTED ON NOVEMBER 2ND, HAS ANYONE HEARD THE VOTERS YET?

Atlanta Media Guy

December 17th, 2010
11:39 am

Tack on an amendment in the Dream Act that states, every illegal must gain legal citizenship and pay taxes, ALL TAXES! NO MORE HAND OUTS!

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:42 am

HS Public Teacher: Some kids can’t apply for citizenship the standard way because they have no status to adjust. I am a Highschool teacher and I had one girl break down in tears. She is top of her class, in honor society, in all the clubs at school, but she can not apply to college because she has no social security number. The reason for this is, her parents came to the US undocumented. She was only 1 yearsold. She didn’t realize what her “stauts” meant in this country till she was about 15. She had no visa, no nothing. How can a 1 yearold talk or tell their parents what to do? it breaks my heart to have to see this girl who was only 1 years old and to see her dream of wanting to go to college because she wants to become a pediatrician, and not be able to follow through with her dream, makes me more upset. If she was able to adjust her status in this country so easily, then this wouldn’t be called the “Dream Act” this would help kids just like her. She is practically American.I mean come on guys, really, 1 years old? What decisions can a child really make? especially a baby? I vote for this law because of her. She is a great person who does not deserve this.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:44 am

Remember, we our not giving Residency to the parents.

kgolden

December 17th, 2010
11:48 am

To HS Public Teacher:

So these kids should just apply for citizenship the standard way? What a great idea but that is impossible and I cannot believe that you could write something so ignorant, with all due respect. Don’t you think everyone would have tried to fix their situations if they could have done so?? A little lesson…current immigration law does not have any remedy for Dream Act beneficiaries. None. If they leave the U.S. to apply for a student visa then they are slapped with a 10 year reentry bar for having been illegally present in the U.S. for more than one year. It doesn’t matter that they never choose to come to the U.S. – the reentry bar is automatic. So please take all this into account in your thought process. Put yourself in their shoes and I guarantee you would be pleading for a just little understanding and compassion.

Maureen Downey

December 17th, 2010
11:49 am

A note to “I hate red necks,” You may have the record this week of eight words in a single blog post that won’t pass the blog filter. You are welcome to post your outrage, but you have to restrain your language.
Maureen

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:53 am

Kgolden: Yes!!!!!!Thank you! I think there is a lot of misunderstanding with the legality behind this. A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is for these kids. The girl I spoke about earlier is praying every night for this law to pass, she told me if it doesn’t pass there is no point in living. My hearts just broken and I’m helping my making calls to all the republicans who oppose this, there are democrats who oppose also, but we can make a change in someones life if we make calls too….especially being American citizens.

Dalis

December 17th, 2010
11:54 am

I support the DREAM Act, this is the right thing to do for our Country. Many US Citizens do NOTHING for their lives, these young kids only want to have a chance to show the world all the potential that they have, this would contribute over 1.3 Million dollars to the US economy over the next decade. This is NOT a reform, we are talking about smart and good young people, who have to meet especial requirements and won’t be able to obtain any financial aid or bring their families, because this BILL is only to open the path for them to be able to make those DREAMS a reality.
We are not talking about just immigrants or illegal aliens, we are referring to the best of the best, these are smart young people and deserve the right to SHINE.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:56 am

Atlantsa Media Guy: Do you understand, if this law passes there will actually be many votes for Republicans because the bill is in their hands right now. If they pass it, this large community of kids will vote for them .

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
11:58 am

Dalis: Lets make these kids shine! They deserve it!

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
12:04 pm

as Teachers and Americans we can help these kids all we have to do is call.
Senate Democrats:

Conrad (ND) – 202-224-2043
Pryor (AR) 202-224-2353
Manchin (WV) 202-224-3954
Hagan (NC) 202-224-6342

Senate Republicans:

Brownback (KS) – 202-224-6521
Voinovich (OH) – 202-224-3353
Snowe (ME) – 202-224-5344
Collins (ME) – 202-224-2523

HS Public Teacher

December 17th, 2010
12:13 pm

@kgolden -

Don’t be rude. I was not being mean. There is no reason for your response to have such a tone.

Again, what I suggest is NOT to create a NEW anything. Rather, if needed, modify the CURRENT path to citizenship for those special circumstances. I don’t see how this is a bad thing. If these children cannot complete citizenship the standard why, then simply change/add a clause that would allow it. The general path to citizenship really should not be THAT different….. take a test, live fruitfully in the US for a while, etc.

I do not want to see a sudden creation of a “Dream Act” branch of the federal government with 10,000 employees and 5 new federal buildings in DC. It just won’t make sense.

Sean33

December 17th, 2010
12:16 pm

#1. It sounds to me like most of the opposition is due to politics. I can’t drive more the 10 min in any direction before I see a “Hiring” sign. Realty?? There isn’t any jobs. 2. If applying for citizenship was available for these people then they would have done it by now. If any of them tried to apply the would just be deported to a country they don’t know. With a language they don’t know and so on… 3. I bet that any parent out there would do anything in their power to provide a safe and comfortable environment for their children. So don’t blame anyone for doing everything and anything they can for their children. Ask yourself… Would you have the guts to go through the dessert for a chance to work and prosper. Or would u collect unemployment?

Sunraynews | Top US news

December 17th, 2010
12:17 pm

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

kgolden

December 17th, 2010
12:22 pm

HS Teacher:

Sorry if I came on a little strong. The lack of basic knowledge on most individual’s part on how the immigration process works is a problem because too many go off half cocked when they do not know what they are talking about. Just to answer your question, there would be no creation of a Dream Act branch of the federal government. This entire application program would fall under the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS).

The Dream Act actually is a modification to the current immigration law. There is nothing simple about this though given that it was introduced back in 2001 and has never made it through. What you advocate in your last post is exactly what I would love to see. By the way, the path to citizenship is THAT difficult (unless you receive the green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen). For children in these circumstances, citizenship is a pipe dream without the Dream Act.

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
12:26 pm

It must be remembered that, for the most part, illegal households using programs like free school lunch or Medicaid are receiving these benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children, who under current law are awarded citizenship at birth. Of course, the costs of providing services to these children are very real for taxpayers and result from illegals having been allowed to enter and stay in the country. And having the federal government feed or provide medical care to their children is an enormous benefit to illegal aliens. Thus, in considering the consequences for public coffers, counting the costs of these programs is necessary; otherwise one would gain a very false sense of illegal immigration’s present costs.

Georgia ranks number 5 behind states that have the highest drop out rate…California and Florida are in the top 4. Do we want to be like FL and CA? We squawk and balk about keeping the HOPE grant viable and I wonder how many of these illegals have taken advantage of that situation. Entitlements, such as HOPE and “free” medical care should be for citizens of US, not illegals. Frankly, the “entitlement cow” has dried up!

Local school districts are estimated to educate 1.8 million undocumented children. At an average annual cost of $7,500 (averages vary by jurisdiction) per student, the cost of providing education to these children is about $11.2 billion.

The impact of some illegals not speaking and writing the language just touches the surface of the real issue…we cannot afford it anymore!

GNGS

December 17th, 2010
12:30 pm

If we want to have a rational discussion on the topic, we should have all the facts. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the DREAM Act would reduce the federal deficit by an estimated $1.4 billion over ten years.

In state of Georgia, I am not sure how an undocumented child can get into public school since we need birth certificate to register for our public school.

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
12:35 pm

“documented” or not…we cannot afford them any longer…GA is looking at a 8.5 billon dollar short fall and we are no longer solvent for economic growth…that is the reality.

shaggy

December 17th, 2010
12:35 pm

You know what? I just don’t care anymore. Sorry their parents made poor choices and broke the laws of this country, instead of getting in line to do it legally. Deport them, along with their parents. I hear the cartels are hiring and provide free medical care.

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
12:42 pm

Oh…found this: it is estimated that GA spends 17-22 million dollars a year on tuition for illegal aliens in the University System…wonder how much of that was HOPE money.

ATF

December 17th, 2010
12:48 pm

Even Newt Gingrich has said that we will not deport 11 million people. He, too, is looking for a path to citizenship that is not just amnesty for all.

This is a path that says go to college or join the military. Sounds good. Sounds reasonable. Gives us an option to the whole “kick the bums out” mentality that isn’t going to happen.

If not the Dream Act, what?

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
12:48 pm

HS Public teacher: Before you make a comment about the “Dream Act” or about any law for that matter, you really need to be educated in it.I read up on everything as soon as the student came up to me and class and broke down in tears. I also did not understand at one point. But now I do.
Again, if it was that easy everyon would do it. Call an immigration attorney and he will fill you in if your interested. But really, if you have no profound knowledge of the topic, then I wouldn’t state an opinion. Not trying to be rude by any means.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
12:53 pm

Shaggy: If you are a man of faith, then how can you say such a thing. I hope one day, you are not in a position will people will oppose your rights. I know you feel that way because your American and so am I. But these are kids, a lot of them are great students. THEY ARE NOT CRIMINALS. Have a little sympathy.

Madre

December 17th, 2010
12:57 pm

HS Public teacher-

This would be called Immigration Reform….. What the Federal government should do. People have to realize that it is not easy to get in the back of the line when there is no line. And for those of you that say “we pay for their education” please know that being illegal does not exclude you from paying taxes. If you look around theses “illegals” are shopping, drive cars, and yes even buying property, so guess what they also pay taxes and.

South Ga Teacher180

December 17th, 2010
12:58 pm

It has nothing to do with them being criminals and showing them sympathy…it is about longer-term economic solvency and we cannot afford them any longer.

Mr. Grinch

December 17th, 2010
12:59 pm

Those Illegal kids can go back to their home country and apply to come to the United States the correct way. It will show their illegal parents the correct way to enter a country.

Plus, I have a real “Dream Act” for you….

A). Earn a College Degree, (not just attend college for two years….what is that?) or

B). Serve in the Military for Twelve (12) years (Honorable); (not two years of service)…

C). After completing one of the above requirements, then the young illegal much serve four (4) years in the U.S. Peace Corps.

D). Pay a $10,000.00 fine

After completing said requirements, the young illegal can apply for Conditional Residency. (Conditional Residency will last for five years).

Must NOT have a criminal record; and CANNOT sponsor anyone once the young illegal becomes a citizen.

Now, that is a Dream Act….

Mark

December 17th, 2010
1:04 pm

I believe the Dream Act is well intended. However, I am concerned about the lack of language that precludes these individuals from eventually “sponsoring” the very people who brought them into the Country illegally in the first place and the cost.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
1:08 pm

OK. The US is made up of immigrants am I wrong? Your parents, or your grandparents, or great grandparents unless you are Native American. Mr. Grinch what if your ancestors chose not to come here, you would be a foreigner and probably struggling in another country, wishing you could come to the US, the land of opportunities.

AlreadySheared

December 17th, 2010
1:08 pm

The DREAM act, while being “fair” to children who are currently here illegally, would supply another powerful incentive for illegal immigration.

45 years ago, LBJ’s “Great Society” initiative started a host of programs which marginalized traditional family structures and fatherhood in the name of fairness and economic justice. In 1960,
5,3 percent of all children were to unwed mothers; today, well over one third (33+%) are.
http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/greenbook2003/AppendixM.pdf

We need to be aware not only of the immediate effects of our government policies, but also of their long term implications.

Doc Killian

December 17th, 2010
1:09 pm

I feel that besides all the other arguments, A FACT that gets ignored. 85% (the Gov’t figure) are Hispanics. What about those who have been standing in line LEGALLY from over 50+ different… Countries and Cultures? Are we simply going to open the doors and forget about those who went by the RULES and I Might ADD, Have been Paying Taxes because they OBEYED THE LAW. No other country allows you to walk in and demand that THEY change THEIR laws to suit YOU…An example is MEXICO who is currently building a wall to keep Guatamalans OUT !

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
1:13 pm

ALready Sheared: very interesting point, but ok. Lets say we don’t pass the law, you do realize these kids aren’t going anywhere right?? and lets say that we tried to track down the millions, which would require lots of money and time right??especially during this time, do we need that? NO! lets just help thses kids move forward with their lives.They never did anything wrong.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
1:14 pm

either way we’d be spending money right?

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
1:15 pm

We are not opening doooooorrrrsss for the last time this isn’t amnesty its only for kids who have entered under 16. READ READ READ!

Realist

December 17th, 2010
1:15 pm

As always, if you agree to serve the bloodthirsty empire you can be one of its subjects. Just another way to avoid the reality that most americans are sick and tired of the illegal and immoral wars. The Romans used to offer the same kind of incentives in the final days of their empire. How history repeats itself.

Shelby

December 17th, 2010
1:17 pm

Realist: True