Why many immigrant rights activists oppose the Dream Act

Several e-mails have circulated recently asking Gray Panthers to call their legislators urging passage of the Dream Act (US Senate bill 774, Durban). I would urge Gray Panthers NOT to support the Dream Act for these reasons:

(1) The Dream Act provides strong incentive for young undocumented immigrants to risk their lives in the military forces in Iraq, killing or being killed to defend the same exploitative foreign policies that pauperized their home countries and forced them to migrate to the US in the first place. It would supplement an economic draft with a green card draft. Given the military Stop Loss policy and the indefinite extensions of Iraq tours of duty, and the call-backs of soldiers after only one year stateside, it insults our intelligence to say that immigrants would be eligible for permanent residence after only 2 years of military service. Immigrants are already doing disproportionate military duty. In spite of dangerous conditions, extended tours of duty, and inadequate training and equipment, “Hispanic” military recruitment has increased 22% since the beginning of the Iraq war, according to the Pentagon. For more on the Dream Act as military recruitment more than impetus for higher education, see


(2) The Dream Act offers legalization to only that small proportion of immigrants who can already attend college, even 2-year college, and does little or nothing to address the real barriers to college for immigrants: high costs for tuition, fees, books, and housing; terrible elementary and high schools in areas where immigrants live, particularly for students with limited English skills; and exploitative jobs and lack of support services for immigrant parents. States already have the option of offering in-state tuition for undocumented students. Some statistics show that for every Hispanic student attending 2 or 4 year college, twenty are not. Given these unaddressed barriers, military service will be legalization option most used, not college. — Moreover, legalizing only a small proportion of immigrants has the effect of dividing the immigrant community which last year vehemently rejected divisive proposals that would have offered different legalization options for immigrants residing here for different lengths of time. Gray Panthers’ position should be solidarity with immigrants and a demand for complete and unconditional amnesty for all immigrants.

(3) While it is true that there are mainstream immigrant organizations that support the Dream Act, there are also immigrant organizations that oppose it, on the grounds outlined above. See




Watch a video of Latins protesting a LULAC-sponsored job fair in Chicago that featured military recruiters.

This statement is personal opinion, and has not been recently voted on by the SF Gray Panthers Board. Our Board did take a position against the Dream Act in 2006 and publicized it in public statements, discussions, and banners in immigration marches. This statement has the current support of a number of Network Board members and activists.


1 Response to “Why many immigrant rights activists oppose the Dream Act”

  1. 1 Backbones July 31, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Somewhere along the line ones ancestors were also immigrants of this country. They may come to america legally or illegally because america had plead amnesty to illegal immigrants twice in US history. Even before then Pilgrams did not have permission from the native americans to come here leading to horrible deaths. In many years of American history Americans have died in wars. This gives them a chance to be one of us. They are part of us Americans whether we like it or not whether we give them the name or not. We share the same country and brought up under the same history.

    Thing is these students are already here they’ve soaked our culture learned our history and why not let them stay?

    Many of these students are way more educated then our own children. These illegal immigrants have the will to strive for education and what they want. What about our children they strive for video games and potato chips and maybe a nice couch?

    You state that they take taxpayers money have you also considered that they pay tax too? Yes they do and i can vouch for it. And where do thier tax go? To our american children who skips school and sells drugs to its peers?

    We have invested so much money in them and now its time for them to go to college we should continue to support them and not do it half way! other wise we would live up to what other countries call us “Lazy Americans” If we can support higher education that means that the taxes would come back to you later in social security. Its like opening a CD account and never going back to claim it. Since we have nutured them up to college not letting them work and attend further education would only be our loss.

    You claim that they take our money yet if they dont pass the dream act the immigrants would really take our money and never return it. If we pass it atleast we would get back some of our investments. If we keep supporting them up to 12th grade needless to say our national deficiet would only get larger.

    College spot wise, last i check this country was based on capitalism competition must arise for people to better themselfs if American citizen complain that illegal immigrants are taking thier college spots isint that more of a communism thought? If American Citizens want to get into the better colleges that illegal immigrants can get into then maybe they should get off of the couch and start some hard-core studying. Our children are already considered one of the most uneducated needless to say not bright children in the world! If we pass the dream act we would have a higher rate for further education then we wouldnt be such “Lazy Americans” for a change.

    If we give them a chance these bright bound for college students they might be able to change the world. Who knows maybe even a cure to cancer and find another earth but are we giving them a chance?

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