No One Will Be “Punished” By Not Passing the DREAM Act

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The DREAM Act is back and so is the familiar argument offered by those who support granting some form of amnesty to people who arrived or remained in this country illegally before they reached the age of 16: “We should not punish children for the sins of their parents.”

On the surface, there appears to be something morally compelling about this argument. Although the DREAM Act, in its numerous iterations over the years, has not necessarily been limited to “kids,” or to high-achievers as its proponents like to claim, it would undoubtedly benefit many people who, because of their age, are not responsible for having initially violated U.S. immigration laws. No just society would punish people for acts for which they are not responsible, argue supporters of the DREAM Act.

What DREAM Act proponents’ bank on is that our commendable compassion as a nation will cause us to overlook the fundamental flaws in the premise of their argument. The implicit premise of their case for the DREAM Act is that Americans are punishing innocent people by not granting them some form of amnesty. We aren’t.

Not passing the DREAM Act does not mean that we are punishing children for the sins of their parents. What it means is that we are not rewarding children for the sins of their parents. The absence of a benefit or a reward is not the same thing as a punishment.

A second implicit argument of DREAM Act proponent is that it is somehow the fault of American society that people who arrived in the U.S. illegally before age 16 find themselves in a state of legal limbo. One part of that premise is true: They are in a difficult and regrettable situation. The second part is false: It is not American society or American immigration laws that put them there.

Their predicaments are the direct consequence of conscious decisions made by their parents or guardians. It is unfortunately true that children are often harmed by the bad decisions or criminal behavior of their parents. While we regret the harm that these actions cause innocent children, in every other circumstance we hold the parents, not society at large, responsible for the adverse consequences to their children. Is it morally acceptable to absolve parents who violated immigration laws of the consequences of their illegal acts, while we hold other parents responsible when their sins adversely affect their children?

Moreover, the ethical premises posited by DREAM Act advocates will compel us to repeat the process over and over again. If America has a moral obligation to grant amnesty to the current cohort of illegal aliens who arrived in the United State before the age of 16, won’t we have the identical obligation to the next generation of illegal aliens who arrived here under similar circumstances?

As the debate heats up once again it is important that we bear in mind that opposing the DREAM Act does not mean we are punishing anyone for the sins of their parents. For very sound and ethical reasons, we oppose rewarding people for the sins of their parents.

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About Author

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Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

18 Comments

  1. avatar

    Your censors have choose not to print my views well, and good, but just saying that you’ve felt that you heard it before is not what the others that read these posts feel as many times I can’t read every thread. I’ll make this simple. If an illegal immigrant can get permission to serve in the military in a over seas action, conflict or no if they serve Honorably they have at least 3years active and are in a reserve group they should have a path to citizenship.

    • avatar

      I believe in a citizens army espoused by our founders. We don’t want mercenaries whose loyalties are to their paycheck, and will fight and kill with no moral compass. We want any army that will defend the homeland with patriotism, passion, and loyalty. We want an army that will mutiny when the commands from the general diverge from the principals of the constitution. We don’t want an army that can be directed on imperialistic missions under the direction of an ambitious power hungry tyrant.

  2. avatar

    The dream act is crap, it give criminals the right to what is not, and never was, and never should be theirs. I don’t believe in anchor babies, or the way the phonies weakling Judges, and members of congress have interpreted the 14Th amendment. If one of the parents is not a citizen they are not to be considered to be U.S. Citizens. Clean house this NOV. leave no one in the congress who has been there foe over 6 years, in the senate one term, and change the senate term to 4 years max. 2 terms the same as the president. They can run again after two terms out of office. with exception of the President he can have only two terms ever. Go home and live like the rest of the nation under the laws we all have to live by now. You are not do you hear me YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL.

  3. avatar

    How many times must I tell you people this: Illegal immigration is a symptom of massive, out-of-control, ill-conceived, subsidized, LEGAL immigration.

    Unless and until we fix our insane LEGAL chain migration laws, illegal immigration is only going to get worse.

    Oh, and for the idiot Republicans below who blame all this on the “liberal Democrats,” which did Jorge Bush and a Republican Congress do about immigration? Nothing, just MORE OF IT. Both parties are equally bad and hell-bent on destroying America’s middle class.

    • avatar
      Tired of Illegal Immigrants on

      Guest: Name calling (idiot repubs) does nothing to justify your beliefs, feelings or opinions; it only gives others reason to believe you are ignorant and self-centered.

  4. avatar
    Anybody Home? on

    Let me try again to post with some minor adjustments…your patience is appreciated.

    I am so frustrated and furious that my city Houston Texas is becoming more and more Mexican et al. Tuesday, I went to vote in the primary at my neighborhood swimming facility; I walked since it is close to my home and as I approached I was glad that I had. The parking was filled and I immediately thought that there was a large turn-out of voters, but no, the pool had opened that day – remember how much fun that was for your family…school is out so let the fun begin!

    Problem is out of all the kids and family members, no one spoke English…I hesitated before going in to vote, hoping to hear English from somebody…but no! This is when I feel the most betrayed by my government; this is when I feel the most resentment of a people who makes no effort to assimilate. This is when I feel like that I have moved to a foreign country without my knowledge. Last year, the announcement of the pool opening was written in all spanish no English except for the name and address of our facility.

    My neighborhood now belongs to the illegal aliens…those that have no desire to become Americans; those that have expensed their health care, their housing, their food, their children’s education etc etc on the backs of American taxpayers and our government both Republicans and Democrats have aided and abetted this invasion!

    Houston is a Sanctuary City who harbors the worst of the worst and our Republican governor supports and enacted in-state tuitions for illegal aliens. All that they have to do is finish three years in a Texas high school and begin the process of becoming legal, but like so many laws this one is abused, no accountability for the illegal aliens to actually comply with the process. It was mentioned earlier this year that more needed to be done to follow up with the students to check their progress in the second part of this lenient entitlement…you guessed it, the supporters/advocates for illegals refused as it would be too difficult so as far as I know, illegals have once again gotten their demands met while a student – an American student from New York, Washington etc would be charged out-of-state fees, which are extremely expensive.

    Sometimes I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach by the Democrats who demand rights for illegal aliens in an obvious effort to shore up their assured votes. When Obama via fiat, executive order granted amnesty to over three hundred thousand illegals already in our court system, I felt ignored and defeated.

    But have the Republicans done anything to stop this invasion? No, we can’t even get E-verify up for a vote in the House. My 180 on all things dealing with my government began in 2007 when human/drug traffickers moved in next door…I who had volunteered during the 80s at a local charity to assist people coming in from Central and South America…I who had been a tree-hugging liberal all of my voting life was taught by the brutal ignorant arrogance of those that evade our laws that are not held accountable by anyone…I pulled the lever for a straight Republican ticket, but so far, they have proven to be just as agenda driven (those that profit from slave wages who saddled every American with the cost that every illegal alien demands who pad our governor’s, our state senates’, our state representatives’ on up to our elected officials in Washington campaign coffers and to he ll with the destroyed American families, neighborhoods, schools, hospitals…no one give a da mn!!!)

    Thank you, FAIR, for your steadfast devotion to this country and our citizens; thank you for continuing as LaRaza, SPLC, LULAC etc etc with deliberate malice, tried to demonize you as “racist” and shut down the debate…thank you for your focus as our own government betrays our citizens!

  5. avatar

    As long as we have an illegal in the White House nothing good will be done to prevent illegals from getting citizenship illegally, welfare, education, medical, etc., etc. No where is there proof that the president is an American citizen. Everyone seems concerned as to where he was born. Doesn’t matter! He could have been born in the Oval Office, but that wouldn’t make him a citizen. His last known countries’ citizenship was Indonesia. I have never seen anywhere, books, newspapers, internet, etc. where he applied for and received American citizenship.

    If he tried to enforce the laws of immigration in America, he would be putting himself in jeopardy of being deported himself.

  6. avatar
    Ban the illegals on

    Why does no one recognize the plight of American families that are excluded from getting jobs because illegals are taking them? Our youngsters can’t get jobs while in High School, can’t get into colleges totally impacted by illegals, can’t get entry level jobs and often get laid off because illegals get hired at lower rates. We never hear anything about those costs.

  7. avatar
    Phyllis Cates on

    DEPORTATION IS CHEAPER THAN SUPPORTING ILLEGAL ALIENS AND THEIR ANCHOR BABIES FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. TAKE AWAY THEIR FOOD STAMPS, FREE EDUCATION, MEDICAID, FREE HEALTHCARE, WELFARE, SOCIAL SERVICES, ETC. MAKE THEM PAY FOR EVERYTHING THEY USE THAT IS PAID FOR BY THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS. THEY HAVE STOLEN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS FROM IRS WITH THEM CLAIMING CHILD CREDITS FOR 20 KIDS STILL LIVING IN MEXICO AND THEIR HOMELANDS.

    CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REP AND YOUR SENATORS AND YOUR STATE SENATORS AND DEMAND THAT ILLEGAL ALIENS BE DEPORTED AND ALL WELFARE BE TAKEN FROM THEM. IF YOU DON’T PAY STATE TAXES THEN CHARGE THEM FOR THE EDUCATION, AND HIGHER COSTS FOR DRIVERS LICENSES AND TAGS FOR THEIR VEHICLES. PRETTY SOON THEY WILL FEEL AMERICANIZED AND REALIZE THAT THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING JUST LIKE AMERICANS.

    • avatar

      ILLEGAL ALIENS SHOULD BE DEPORTED IMMEDIATELY, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.. THEY ABUSE AMERICAN SYSTEM, PERIOD!!!!
      ILLEGAL ALIENS MAKE EXCUSES ABOUT THEIR DREAM, THAT’S A LIE, THEY ARE THE BIGGEST LIAR, THEY ABUSE AMERICAN SYSTEM, THEY WANT FREEBIES FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES AND SEND MONEY TO THEIR MEXICO…

  8. avatar
    Steve Paramore on

    It is absolutely time for the so called “anchor baby” law to come off the books….those days, that time of American history has long been over, being it was originally created to assist freed slaves….I don’t believe that has been an issue in America for several generations.

    If Mom and Pop were/are illegal….so are the kids.

    America is near to bankruptcy. It’s time to shift priorities from 3rd world nations, illegal aliens, and law-breakers…..to the tax-paying, middle-class, hard-working, and constantly taken-advantage of working class American citizens.

    Everyone else is #2!

    • avatar
      Phyllis Cates on

      RIGHT ON…….NO MORE FREEBIES, NO FREE EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, FOODSTAMPS, ETC.

  9. avatar

    What is it that people don’t get , what part of the term “illegal” is it that people do not understand ? Yes , there have been people sneaking into our country for years . And granted , their children have been born here , educated here , raised here and, perhaps those off spring have jobs here . However the ratio of those who are meaningful citizens and those who are nothing more than criminal elements or simply a social drain on our welfare system is grossly out of proportion .
    The liberal , bleeding hearts of the left and Democratic Party would have everyone believe that illegals are productive and, needed elements of our society . I am sure there are some who fit that bill . But there are many more who are just taking advantage of the system . Yes , they work jobs that are low paying and menial . Their employers make the claim that they are unable to find legal American citizens who will work or accept menial jobs . Perhaps , but I seem to think that it is more of that the employer found one illegal who was willing to work at any wage and decided that it was better for his bottom line to employ illegals exclusively . And so the trend was started .
    Now many years later , despite the efforts of our under staffed and over worked Boarder Patrol to curb the now flood proportions of illegals coming in . Our leadership has decided that it would be wonderful to allow them to stay here . Wonderful for who ? For the legal citizens of this country who due , to the present economy , destroyed by your inept leadership has been steadily going down hill causing cut backs and layoffs . For those who are now out of work because of liberal policies and out of control governmental spending . Spending that includes welfare and medical benefits for the illegals who have crossed into the US .
    It is time to halt the illegal flood , let them know in no uncertain terms that there is no future for them here if they come in illegally . Deport them back to wherever they came from and close our borders down . Evict the biggest illegal we have and vote Obama out of the white house and deport his Kenyan Butt ! He is an illegal , he knows it , the Democratic Party knows it but doesn’t care . Now as long as they get voters to re-elect them and keep them in power they will continue with policies of big government , tax and spend and , march to Communism . Utopian society is their dream .
    America as we have known it will soon vanish , swallowed up by illegal immigration and greedy politicians . Time to get rid of both if we want to continue to be the great nation we once were

  10. avatar
    Tired of Illegal Immigrants on

    The one truth that nobody can argue against; the Dream Act rewards illegal immigrants for their parents criminal acts. Rewarding criminal behavior does one thing; it encourages more criminal behavior!

  11. avatar
    Delaware Bob on

    The DREAM Act is amnesty, and that is why I was always against the DREAM Act, but, I’ll give in to the DREAM Act under two conditions. First, the parents who bought their illegal alien children here illegally MUST be deported. Second, the parents can NEVER return to this country and the student can NEVER sponsor them or any other family member that would start a chain migration. The student will start the DREAM Act as soon as the parents are deported or leave. This, I believe, is a good compromise. The students will be rewarded for something that was not their fault and the parents will pay for their crime of entering this country illegally and putting their child in this position. If you do not like this compromise, then the parents can just take their children back to the country from which they came. AGREE? If not, let all of them pack their bags and get the hell out of this country. They DO NOT belong here.

    Illegal immigration is a cancer, it has to be eradicated not tolerated.

  12. avatar

    Part of a Letter sent to my rep, Joe Courtney in Connecticut:

    Here is an interesting note: Did you know that under the existing Selective Service laws, that even illegal aliens that reside in the county must register with the Selective Service between the ages of 18 to 26? If they do not register during that interval of time, they can NEVER get United States citizenship according to the existing law. That was a law that your predecessors passed and you should be supporting that law, not trying to circumvent it. I would like to know why you and other Congress members have not mentioned that requirement in this push to pass the Dream Act. By not registering, illegal aliens are breaking yet another of our nations laws. Yet you want to give them a path to citizenship and to eventually sponsor their entire family! Just what am I missing here? (If by chance, you do not know about this Selective Service law, you can check it out on the Selective Service web site).

    • avatar
      Tired of Illegal Immigrants on

      Mr. Crocco: Thank you for sharing. You shed new light on the Dream Act travesty! Thank you very much!

  13. avatar

    PARENTS KNEW WHAT THE END GAME WAS…………..ITS THE PARENTS FAULT TO BRING THEM IN, SET UP HOUSE KEEPING AND NOW WANT ‘DREAM ACT’ I SAY NO WAY………