AMERICA'S VOICE RESEARCH ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

Conservatives Support the DREAM Act

Published: 12/17/2010

  • In Arizona, conservative Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb wrote that conservative opponents of DREAM, including in-state Senators like John McCain and Jon Kyl, have yet to provide a “rational argument” against the DREAM Act.  Robb notes, “The question isn’t whether the Dream Act amounts to amnesty. It’s whether it is sound policy.  If the focus is on the young people themselves, the case for the Dream Act is impenetrable.  They have been brought up in this country. I can’t imagine that there is any parent in the country who, if his or her own children were in this situation, wouldn’t want them to have the opportunity to stay.  Economists debate endlessly whether low-skilled immigrants are a net economic benefit or drain. But the evidence is unequivocal: those with two years of college or military training pay their own way in life.”
  • In Texas, conservative faith leaders have been rallying in support of DREAM and putting pressure on the state’s Republican Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison to support the legislation.  As the Dallas Morning News reports, Rev. Mark Gonzales, “a Dallas-based evangelical pastor and former advisor to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign,” called DREAM “moral imperative” and said, “This is more than a political issue. This is more than a partisan issue.  This is something we believe is in the best interests of our country and our next generation of leaders.”
  • Republican Senator Richard Lugar, when introducing the DREAM Act, said, “Undocumented young people usually arrive with their families and have no understanding of their immigration status…they should be encouraged to complete an education and move toward permanent residency.”
  • Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told Laura Ingraham on December 6, 2010, “I think that it’s legitimate to say, if you’re willing to risk your life for two or three years, serving to protect the United States, we will be willing to consider you for citizenship.”
  • General Colin Powell, former Bush Administration Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on NBC’s Meet the Press on September 19, 2010, “Our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. Fifty percent of our minority kids are not finishing high school. We’ve got to invest in education. We should use the Dream Act as one way to do it.”
  • Jeb Bush, former Republican Governor of Florida, said at a press conference on November 30, 2010, “I have sympathy for the high school class president from Coral Gables High School — it could be any high school in Miami — that is through no fault of their own maybe here for close to their entire life and are put in this dilemma. Shame on the federal government for allowing that to happen.
  • Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate, said in an NPR interview on August 11, 2010, “When a kid comes to his country, and he’s four years old and he had no choice in it — his parents came illegally. He still, because he is in this state, it’s the state’s responsibility – in fact, it is the state’s legal mandate – to make sure that child is in school. So let’s say that kid goes to school. That kid is in our school from kindergarten through the 12th grade. He graduates as valedictorian because he’s a smart kid and he works his rear end off and he becomes the valedictorian of the school. The question is: Is he better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes? I think it’s better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen.”
  • Linda Chavez, Reagan Administration official and conservative political commentator, wrote in an Op-Ed on December 12, 2010, “Do Republicans really want to tell young people who have lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English, and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield for the protection of all Americans: ‘We don’t want you’?… The refusal of all but a tiny handful of Republicans to vote for the Dream Act will become a future nightmare. Hard-line anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric already has cost Republicans at least two U.S. Senate seats, Nevada and Colorado, even in a GOP landslide election.”
  • Former Illinois Republican Governor, Jim Edgar voiced his support for DREAM in an op-ed in the November 28, 2010 Chicago Tribune, writing that “A rational approach to comprehensive immigration reform should begin with the young people who were brought here as babies, toddlers and adolescents…A nation as kind as ours should not turn its back on them. Congress needs to support the sensible, humane approach embodied in legislation known as the Dream Act. The measure charts a rigorous path that undocumented youths must negotiate to gain legal status and qualify for citizenship, and supporting it would be both good government and good politics.”
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, noted on December 10, 2010 that DREAM, “because of its commitment to education and personal responsibility through academic enrichment and military service, is quite possibly the most pro-family, traditional, pro-military, pro-self-reliance piece of legislation in years.  Republicans should rise as the staunchest supporters of a policy proposal that incorporates the most fundamental components the Conservative credo.  For that matter, opposition to the DREAM Act must be interpreted as both politically naïve and morally irreconcilable with any pro-family agenda.” 
  • Stephen A. Nuño, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said on December 10, 2010, “It is said that the Dream Act is an abomination of the law, that it rewards illegal behavior and that it encourages more people to come here nefariously.  Yet, these arguments are inconsistent with conservativism because they ignore the convention of human migration, the nature of humans seeking a better life for themselves, and most importantly, it is a contradiction to persist in maintaining a society of citizens stuck in the shadows of society… We must work to integrate these people into society so they can be productive members of this great country from outside of the shadows.  These people have worked in the face of great obstacles to be good citizens, to get an education and they only seek a chance to further their contribution.”
  • Michael Gerson, former Bush Administration speechwriter and conservative columnist for the Washington Post wrote on December 6, 2010, ““Whatever its legislative fate, the Dream Act is effective at stripping away pretense. Opponents of this law don’t want earned citizenship for any illegal immigrant – even those personally guilty of no crime, even those who demonstrate their skills and character….They have no intention of sharing the honor of citizenship with anyone called illegal – even those who came as children, have grown up as neighbors and would be willing to give their lives in the nation’s cause.  During the current lame-duck session of Congress, Republicans have been correct to emphasize economic concerns, which the public prioritized in the recent election. But supporting the Dream Act would send a useful message – that some Republicans in victory are capable of governing for the sake of everyone.”
  • Former Republican Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, said, on November 29, 2010, it would be a “shame” not to pass the [DREAM Act] in the lame duck. “We’re very clear this is not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, and we should not allow it to become a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush. “This needs to be positioned as a first step in a comprehensive solution and not a substitute for a comprehensive solution.”
  • Juan Hernandez, founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, released a statement on September 20, 2010 saying, “We believe that if politics are put aside, the DREAM Act could be a first step toward a comprehensive immigration bill, and one that will only benefit our nation. Although as a coalition, our overall goal is to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, we support the DREAMers. These young immigrant students were raised in America, educated in America and think of themselves as Americans. They did not make the decision to come here without documents. Our nation has already invested taxpayer dollars in their education and training and the DREAM Act will ensure that America will reap the benefits of those investments. America needs and every American should want their talent and skills.”
  • Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett said in a floor statement on September 21, 2010, “I happen to be one–perhaps a minority on my side of the aisle–who is in favor of the DREAM Act. I want to be one who will vote for the DREAM Act.”
  • David Chu, Bush Administration Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, said in Congressional testimony on July 10, 2006, “If their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most of these young people have no mechanism to obtain legal residency even if they have lived most of their lives here. Yet many of these young people may wish to join the military, and have the attributes needed ‐ education, aptitude, fitness, and moral qualifications.”

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