President Biden took early executive actions on immigration in the first days of his office, such as lifting the Muslim ban. He continues to issue executive orders on immigration.
He also demonstrated support for immigrants by promoting the Comprehensive Immigration Bill, which has hundreds of pages of immigration benefits–the best immigration legislation that has been proposed in the past 20 years. Learning from previous failures of comprehensive immigration reforms, Democratic leaders are clearly signaling that they are ready to make a deal with the Republicans on narrower immigration measures that have bipartisan support.
The most likely candidate for the first such effort is the Dream Act.
What Is the Dream Act?
It is a bill to provide legal status, work authorization, and a path to citizenship to those who were brought into the country by their parents without documentation.
Why Is There Opposition to the Dream Act?
Those who oppose the Dream Act claim that the bill runs contrary to “the rule of law” and argue that rewarding unlawful behavior will result in more unlawful behavior.
Why Is Opposition to the Dream Act in the Minority?
The issue in the Dream Act is a conflict between two principles:
- The rule of law
- The idea that children should not be held responsible for the offenses of their parents.
The same issue has come up in many centuries, in many countries, and in many human events. In common law, the resolution between these two principles is well-established. Punishing innocent parties for actions not in their control, and actions they could not avoid is not “the rule of law” — in fact, the rule of law requires that innocent parties like undocumented children be held as innocent.
These children have grown up in America and are American in every sense of the word, save for a few legal documents that say otherwise. Sending them back to a country they do not even remember is inhumane punishment for a completely innocent party.
As a result, most individuals support the Dream Act.
What Are the Chances for Passing the Dream Act?
We believe that everything is aligned to pass the Dream Act now. If just one pro-immigration bill passes in this Congress, it will likely be the Dream Act. This is because of massive public support for the bill and the clear moral case to support them.
What Are the Politics Behind the Dream Act?
Unfortunately, in the past, Dreamers have been used as bargaining chips to get Green Cards for their parents. The Dream Act has also been combined with other immigration legislation.
The Big Picture for Immigration Reform
The COVID bill has cleared the Senate and the House is working on sending it to the President’s desk. By the time of this publication, the bill is likely to be signed into law by President Biden.
As the President moves on to other priorities, the Dream Act is the lowest hanging fruit in immigration benefits. A Dream bill has already been written, which includes benefits for children of other immigrants such as children of H-1Bs. We expect the Dream Act to be introduced to Congress very soon.
About the Author
Sam Udani is the Publisher of Immigration Daily and ILW.COM