The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Problems with the DREAM Act

There has been a proposal (titled the DREAM Act) which would legalize some of the illegal immigrants in this country. It specifically would apply to people who had been brought to this country as young children and would require military service or a certain amount of education to legalize them. At first glance, this seems reasonable: the children are not the ones who made the decision to violate this country's laws, and by either getting an education or actually serving this country in the military, they would be making a useful contribution in exchange for legalization. But I'm not very happy with some aspects of this proposed law, and I recently saw another blog post, by a certain David Arredondo of Ohio, with similar objections to my own. Arredondo's ideas are not identical to my own, and I'd like to compare the two, so this post will not merely present my ideas, but also compare his with mine.

The most important problem with the DREAM Act in my eyes, and one which Arredondo also agrees is a serious problem, is that under our laws, once the affected young people have qualified for citizenship, their parents (who are the ones who made the decision to violate this country's laws) would get preferred status toward obtaining citizenship. This would be rewarding an illegal act. Arredondo suggests modifying the DREAM Act to "[s]uspend current immigration law that allows their parents who brought them here illegally from qualifying for Permanent Residency." I would favor that same change, and with this part of his post I fully agree.

Where I part company with Arredondo is that he would eliminate the educational route to legalization, making military service the only path. Now Arredondo is quite correct in stating that "[t]hose of us in the higher ed industry know that 2 years of studies doesn’t qualify a student for much." But the solution to that problem is to require four years, including the earning of at least a bachelor's degree. Arredondo would have, as I said, all these illegals only able to qualify by military service, so that if they wanted an education, they would first have to spend 4 years in the armed forces and then use GI Bill benefits to get that education. I can't go with that. Going into the military entails a willingness to get shot at. I think that is asking too much. (Full disclosure: I succeeded in getting an exclusion from the draft when I was of draftable age. I fully admit that I am enough of a coward that I pulled every string that was available to me to get that exclusion. Now, with the draft no longer in force, requiring military service of any group of people seems to me to be too much of a price to ask them to pay. If they are willing to serve, fine and dandy. But there are more ways to serve the needs of this nation that putting oneself in the line of fire.)

So, like Arredondo, I could only accept the DREAM Act with modifications, but of his two modifications, only the one he gives second would be my choice. His first, eliminating the educational path, is not one I would favor, but rather the educational path should be made more selective, requiring a useful level of education rather than the too-trivial two years currently proposed.

There is also another post on David Frum's FrumForum blog, dealing with changes that he would like to see made to the DREAM Act. Some of these make sense as well; perhaps all would be improvements, though I am not totally certain, but I'd like to point my readers there to consider them.

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