What Are the Pros and Cons of the Dream Act?

The controversial Dream Act has numerous pros and cons. The pros include an expansion of opportunities for young people who have grown-up and studied in the U.S. but do not have a mechanism to obtain legal status. The cons include the possibility that the legislation could encourage large waves of illegal immigration and weaken the rule of law. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act offers a pathway for young illegal immigrants to become citizens of the United States.

The National Immigration Law Center observes that the primary function of the Dream Act is to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented persons in good moral standing who have grown up in the U.S. and completed the equivalent of a high school education. Thus, the primary pro of the Dream Act is humanistic. It seeks to prevent the common tragic situation of people who grow up in U.S. after being brought to the country as children or infants but are then deported to a country they know nothing about and whose language they do not speak. There is also a secondary benefit to the country at-large. A greater number of documented workers with higher-education degrees increases tax revenue.

Detractors of the Dream Act point to the possible immigration ramifications. The Heritage Foundation indicates that allowing temporary residence for undocumented immigrants who meet the qualifications would encourage migration and fraud similar to what occurred following the Amnesty of 1986.

Additional pros noted by OccupyTheory are that immigrants contribute to the economy by taking jobs that other Americans do not want, thereby generating additional tax revenue; the military has a larger pool of potential soldiers to support military readiness; and ties become stronger due to the family unit remaining intact.

Additional cons to the DREAM Act, according to OccupyTheory are that the government is potentially awarding those who are undeserving, because they have not worked for the privilege; it could increase the amount of taxes incurred by legal Americans to assist with implementation of the Act; and government costs could increase due to an additional burden on the system as lower or no taxes are paid.

The DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation, pioneered by Senator Orin Hatch and Senator Richard Durbin, that not yet been passed into law, as of 2015, according to the Dream Act Portal.