June 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Well, not quite the full dream, but hooray for Obama for implementing the daydream version of the Dream Act. Fabulous timing for me, as today was bureaucracy day in my class and I was talking about how bureaucracies make policy and how presidents can directly influence policy by telling the political leadership what to do (within clear limits, of course). I always like to give the example of telling the EPA to crackdown or lighten up enforcement on polluters. This is very much the same basic principle, telling ICE to ease up on enforcement of a particular form of illegal immigrants.
This was also a great example of the modern dysfunctional Senate, as the DREAM Act actually passed the House and received 52 votes in the Senate in 2010, but that’s well short of the 60 required to break the Republican filibuster.
I think this is a great example where good politics meets good policy. Cost/benefit-wise, this policy is a complete no-brainer. We’re talking about giving legal status to people who came here as minors, through no illegal actions of their own and have proven to be the educated, upstanding citizens this country should always want, regardless of the unemployment rate. Cost-wise, this is admittedly not fair to everybody else who may want to immigrate to this country, but if this is the most unfair thing we do policy-wise, I’ll take it.
Politics-wise, this should definitely boost the Latino vote and I don’t really imagine it losing Obama many voters who would have otherwise been inclined to support him. It also puts Romney in a bit of a box. The Republican base is clearly going to be calling for the harsh reaction that, so far, he has refused, engaging instead in very tepid criticism.
Lastly, Jon Chait reminds us that this isn’t just politics, but real lives at stake that will benefit in a very significant way:
The most important thing is that some one million young people will now have a chance to live their lives in this country free of the terror that their parents’ actions (actions borne of nothing worse than a desire for freedom and opportunity) will not expose them to the horrors of deportation. They may not be American citizens, but most of us consider them our fellow Americans, and can regard the measure of relief they now have gained with relief of our own, and joy.