The power of the filibuster emerged yet again last Thursday when Republicans in the U.S. Senate opposed consideration of the DREAM Act. With defeat of the legislation, these short-sighted "leaders" chose political posturing over common sense.
Rather than tackle the entire immigration quagmire, the DREAM Act--officially known as The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act--focuses on a small segment of illegal aliens. The proposed legislation would provide an eventual path to citizenship for illegal immigrant teenagers who either attend at least two years of college or join the military. If these individuals remain in good standing for a full ten years after college or the military, they would be permitted permanent residency and the eventual opportunity for citizenship.
Of the 10 to 11 million illegal immigrants who live in this country, approximately 800,000 youngsters would fit into the DREAM framework, about 200,000 of whom live in California.
Opponents of the DREAM Act claim that the law would put immigrants ahead of Americans by allowing them admission to universities in place of citizens. Some also worry that the addition of non-citizens in the military would dilute the quality of our armed services.
In fact, the DREAM Act fills important holes in America's social structure and military preparedness. In competing for college admissions with everyone else, only the most qualified illegal residents would be admitted and emerge with important skill sets. And by joining the military, these individuals would add personnel to recruitment slots that often go unfilled. In short, this is a no brainer.
The immigration issue is not about to go away regardless of opposition to the DREAM Act. But this legislation would basically cherry pick the best, the brightest, and most committed young illegal immigrants who didn't sneak in to the country on their own but who were brought by their parents. Failure to pass this legislation has not merely prevented these youngsters from pursuing successful careers; it's denied our country the benefit of their talents and patriotism. And for that lack of vision we will all suffer.