The DREAM Act (for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) has raised hackles on the right, though it once enjoyed modest bipartisan support. The measure, never a sure thing, appears poised to become a new casualty in the nation's backlash against undocumented immigrants. U.S. bishops reiterated their support December 3 for DREAM (they have long supported DREAM as well as comprehensive immigration reform). The act is intended to provide a soft landing for young people who have grown up in the United States but who entered the nation without documentation as children with their parents. Approximately 65,000 such young people graduate from America's high schools each year. Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, called on Congress to pass DREAM, calling it “the right thing to do.”
Prospects for the passage of the bill in this lame-duck session of Congress are not great, but they would presumably be far worse after Republicans assume control of the House next year. There is perhaps more at stake than just the DREAM. As one opponent of the act told the N.Y. Times: “We think if we beat this one we won’t have to deal with amnesty for many years to come."
Under the legislation, young undocumented people who complete two years of higher education or two years of military service would be eligible for legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship. Coming of age has meant coming to terms with a future fraught with obstacles for such young people. Many have few or no clear memories of their nations and cultures of origin. It is therefore something of a cruelty to force their relocation to such nations to apply for immigration through standard channels and without legal residency they are currently stymied in efforts to pursue higher education or careers that suit their talents, altogether a waste of the investment the United States has already made in these potential contributors and citizens.
"It is important to note that these young persons entered the United States with their parents at a young age, and therefore did not enter without inspection on their own volition. We would all do the same thing in a similar situation,” Archbishop Gomez said. “They have incredible talent and energy and are awaiting a chance to fully contribute their talents to our nation. We would be foolhardy to deny them that chance.
“There are times when a proposal should be enacted because, simply put, it is the right thing to do. This is one of them,” the Archbishop said. “The DREAM Act represents a practical, fair, and compassionate solution for thousands of young persons who simply want to reach their God-given potential and contribute to the well-being of our nation.”