By Jenifer Guzman ’15
Unauthorized youth brought into the country by their parents, ‘dreamers’ as they are called, suffer the consequences from unrealized immigration reform. Yearning to go to college and make their parents proud, their wings are cut preventing them from making their dreams come true. For the past year politicians from Democratic and Republican parties seemed to agree on taking real actions towards fixing the broken immigration system. It seemed probable for immigration reform to be enacted; that is until Republican House speaker John A. Boehner went back on Republican word, making immigration reform impossible this year.
According to an article in the New York Times by Jonathan Weisman Boehner said, Republicans are not ready to work with Democrats whom they could not trust to follow their Republican principles on immigration, a blueprint to what they believe a reform should consist of. Conservative Republicans believe reform isn’t necessary. They say a reform would be the same as granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
What fault do these Dreamers have? Students who would have qualified under the DREAM Act introduced in 2001 are often referred to as “Dreamers.” The title has been used to define the minority in the U.S. who were brought to the country at an early age without documentation but have assimilated to U.S. culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems. With no fault of their own Dreamers whom strive for a better future get cut off.
According to http://www.immigrationpolicy.org, 65,000 undocumented children who have lived in the United States for five or more years graduate high school every year. In New York and 14 other states they can legally attend college, but they don’t due to ineligibility for financial aid. These barriers prohibit an average of five to ten percent of undocumented high-school graduates from attending college. By cutting off the remainder of Dreamers, the country gets deprived of future ingenuity, considering that a large number of these students graduate within the top percent of their class.
Without means to legalize their status even those who do attend college are forced to work illegally in jobs where they cannot put their wasted creativity, talent, and secondary education to use. Students work involuntarily in a cash economy getting paid under the table. This is the problem that affects the economy and society. If these students could legalize their status through a necessary reform, $329 billion would be added to the U.S. economy in addition create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.
According to a report by the Center of American Progress, given the opportunity to receive additional education and move into better paying jobs, undocumented students would pay more in taxes and have more money to invest in the U.S. economy. The reform bill passed in the Senate S.744 would decrease the federal budget deficit by $135 billion in 10 years
and $380 billion in 20 years. Citizenship would allow undocumented immigrants to contribute $606 billion to Social Security supporting 2,400,000 American retirees. Deporting these undocumented students would be harmful to them and the country.
In contrast deporting the 1.4 million Dreamers would cost the government roughly $17 billion. As stated by http://www.americanprogress.org, the tedious task of deporting one individual cost about $12,500. This would not include the rest of the 11.5 million recorded undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 2011. If all illegal immigrants were deported $2.6 trillion would disappear from the country’s gross domestic product over the course of ten years, as well as $285 billion to deport all undocumented civilians over the course of five years.
The old adage that legalizing undocumented immigrants would negatively impact those who are native born Ameri-cans, especially in this dwindling economy is false. There is no direct correlation between the two. According to the immigration policy report, since 2001 states whose colleges have allowed undocumented students to enroll have not experienced a large num-ber of immigrant students. The campuses did not suffer financial burdens; on the contrary these measures tend to increase school income by bringing in tuition from students who otherwise would not be in college.
An IPC study of 2011 data from the American Community Survey discovered that, on the county level, there is no sta-tistically backed up relationship between the unemployment rate and the presence of recent immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later. If there were then states with a high population of undocumented immigrants would see a greater unemployment rate be-cause immigrants are more likely to work for lower wages and longer hours due to necessity.
Immigrants decide to stay because they have started their families here. Most have been in the country for more than a decade, and know that if economic conditions are bad in this country, they are worse in their home countries. They don’t choose to stay in the shadows deliberately. No one does. Students whom are deported are forced back into a country they do not know, most have spend their lives in the United States from pre-k to twelve grade. Dreamers wake up every morning to work or go to school, but fear someone finding out their status and being deported.
Politicians need to stop avoiding the problem. Lost potential of undocumented students, wasted talent and broken dreams stem from the incompetence of politicians to compromise on imperative immigration reform. Undocumented but American, Dreamers want to step out of the shadows. If separating families is not reason enough to call for reform, politicians should open their eyes to the extensive economic benefits dreamers could offer the country if they were granted citizenship.