Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Readers on DREAM Act vs. 'DREAM-light'

A student activist's t-shirt, December 2010
A student activist's t-shirt, December 2010
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A recent post detailed the results of a poll suggesting that while most Latino voters prefer the original versionof the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to some undocumented youths who go to college or join the military, they are divided over a slimmed-down alternative, dubbed "DREAM-light" in the report.

The original Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act proposes granting conditional legal status to undocumented college students and military hopefuls who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, with a path to citizenship. But the measure has been stalled in Congress for a decade. It was voted down in the Senate in late 2010, and the latest version introduced last year by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has yet to advance.

In the meantime, two Republican lawmakers from Florida have introduced their own alternatives. The "DREAM-light" refers to a forthcoming proposal being floated by Sen. Marco Rubio, which would also offer these young people temporary legal status, but without a clear path to citizenship. And Rep. David Rivera has introduced two measures, including the new Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act, which would benefit undocumented students who graduate with four-year degrees, and the less-popular Adjusted Residency Status (ARMS) Act, a military-only version that would benefit those who enlist.

Some have indicated that while the Rivera and Rubio college alternatives aren't seen as ideal, they could see some support for lack of a more successful plan. The comments under the post so far have been interesting, with a back-and-forth over military service and other opinions:

Emigholz123 posted a couple of comments, including a link to a Military Times story about Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, one of the first U.S. military members killed in Iraq. Emigholz wrote:

what about the ones who want to give their life for america by joining the military???

The comment was posted in response to this one, from Ben from Cali:

You don't come to my country and break our laws. Members of the United States Armed Forces are held to strict account for every single one of their actions. If they violate one rule, no matter how minor or severe the statute, they will be punished, often discharged from the service.

Servicemen and women are NOT serving so millions of lawbreakers can continue to flaunt the law. Do not dishonor their service. Shame on any group for supporting blatantly illegal acts.

Robert wrote in response:

Wow a bunch of you guys have no perspective on the situation. You only see things through one field of vision. Unfortunately when it comes to illegal immigration the US has much blame as the undocumented human beings. Think about corporations that hire illegals for their own benefits and in turn utilize the undocumented. Think about the US government not shutting down businesses that hire undocumented, they only give them a "small fine." Open your eyes and start thinking logically!

A comment from Marisol embodied the poll's 49 percent in favor vs. 46 percent opposed split on the Rubio "DREAM-light" idea, which has been criticized as a stopgap for not providing a path to citizenship. At the same time, as she wrote, it may strike the intended political balance:

Though I have not been able to read the proposals yet, from what I have heard, I'd favor the Dream Act light, adding a path to citizenship for those who graduate. That's a good incentive for this group of young people to graduate from college, and the US needs more immigrants who can join the workforce and work productively for many decades.

Also, this would be a way to address the situation of young undocumented people who want to pursue higher education and at the same time listen to those who think that illegally entering the US should not be rewarded. It seems a fair solution to me.

To see all the comments, go to the full post here. And feel free to post more comments.