Last week The Threefold Advocate ran my column describing the details of the DREAM Act. Today’s piece explains why I support this proposed legislation and why I ask students to become politically involved in helping it pass.
The DREAM Act attempts to undo the harm caused by existing immigration policy that seeks to drive away undocumented immigrants by making their lives intolerable.
Part of the strategy calls for punishing the sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants to remove the incentive of entering the United States to provide a better future for their children.
President Obama during primary debates in 2008 supported the DREAM Act. He wanted to provide relief for “children, who, through no fault of their own, are here, but have essentially grown up as Americans. I do not want two classes of citizens in this country.”
No country in the world supports the concept of punishing children of wrongdoers as an effective method of deterring crime. No other crime gets the punish-the-children treatment. If you rob to feed your children, our laws do not sanction your children to make you stop stealing.
The arguments for this punishment do not convince me.
The Crime-of-Being Argument: “They become criminals once they turn 18.”
There is no such crime in U.S. law, nor can there be. The Supreme Court has ruled that there may be no crimes of mere existence. Crimes must require a bad behavior.
The Tainted Argument: “Law defines them as illegal, so we may punish them.” It is so easy for legislature to taint any group that our Constitution forbids these Bills of Attainder. (Attainder means taintedness.)
If Congress were to declare Christian university students as illegal, could society then inflict them with limitless sanctions? The constitutional answer is NO.
The Collateral Damage Argument: This is the argument I hear the most. “They shouldn’t be here. It’s not our fault. We did not intend our law to have this result. We never wanted these kids here. If their parents hadn’t brought them to America, we wouldn’t have had to oppress them.”
The Torture Argument: “If we don’t punish their children, more illegal immigrants will come.” It’s the argument we use to justify torture. We know it’s wicked, but we get such good results from doing so.
Opponents to the DREAM Act, such as Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), call it an amnesty, and in some respects it is. However, to the extent that amnesty forgives past wrongs, the DREAM Act is not an amnesty. These children have committed no wrongs.
Current bills in the Senate and House of Representatives both have provisions that make the DREAM Act a one-time event. When you write your congressmen, please ask them to rewrite the act so that it applies to innocent children from this time forward.
There are no valid arguments to justify punishing these children.
It’s time to stop punishing children for the crimes of their parents.