We Cannot Afford Not to Pass the DREAM Act: A Plea from Immigration Scholars

In the last days of this year's Congress our lawmakers have the opportunity to pass some form of immigration reform. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a federal bill aimed at providing immigration relief to undocumented students. The passage of this bill would grant as many as 2.1 million youth access to legal residency and limited forms of federal financial aid -- thus removing legal and economic barriers to higher education and increasing the likelihood that these youth have the chance to become full, contributing, members of our society.

In the recent weeks and months the DREAM Act has received key endorsements from President Obama, members of his Cabinet, the business community, organized labor, and educators. In fact, the education community has come out strongly in favor of the bill, as at least 29 higher education associations -- including the College Board and the United Students Association -- and presidents and chancellors at more than 73 colleges and universities across the U.S. have endorsed it.

We, a group of university professors who study immigration and the circumstances confronting these young people, and who have many of these students in our classes, believe passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do for our nation's immediate interests and for our long term security.

After decades of research it is clear that, by punishing the children of undocumented immigrants, this country is creating a disenfranchised group of young people cut off from the very mechanisms that would allow them to contribute to our economy and society. Policies currently in place have presumed that making life harder would make immigrants go home; this is referred to as "attrition through enforcement." Yet, this has not happened. To the contrary, Congress' failure to pass immigration reform is creating a permanent underclass of marginalized, poorly educated, and low-skilled individuals, surviving in the shadows of society and facing overwhelming economic and social burdens. It is especially troubling and wasteful that some 2.1 million unauthorized children, American in spirit but not in law, are now enrolled in U.S. schools but will not be able to lawfully gain employment at the end of their education.

Over these last weeks and months we have seen our own students -- those who are in our classrooms -- struggle to meet school expenses, graduate from our universities, and then face uncertain futures and the constant risk of deportation. But we have also witnessed their incredible capacity to thrive despite debilitating circumstances. Gaby Pacheco, who, along with 3 others walked from Miami to Washington DC, holds three degrees from Miami Dade College. She dreams of practicing music therapy with autistic children. While her undocumented status keeps her from achieving those dreams, she has not given up. In the face of opposition she has invited dialogue with those who disagree with her. In fact, she embraces these opportunities. Literally. This past June, upon meeting Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, she hugged him. Gaby has lived in the US since she was seven. She loves this country -- her country, the only country she has ever really known -- as much as any of us. What is to be gained from limiting her opportunities?

Critics claim the Dream Act would undermine the rule of law. Yet, we are reminded of Chief Justice Earl Warren's habit of asking "Is it fair?" in deciding big cases. Gaby Pacheco and the millions like her did not choose to violate the law, nor are they responsible for the mess that is our immigration system. Is it fair to sentence these youth to lives in the shadows for having been brought to the U.S. as babies by their parents? We think America is better than this. We can fix this upside-down moral universe by making a down payment on immigration reform, and passing the Dream Act. It is an important step in fixing America's broken immigration system, and it should be passed. U.S. raised children, like Gaby Pacheco, who benefit from the Dream Act will see their hard work rewarded and, in turn, will contribute even more to the U.S., through higher earnings and taxes paid. And they will be our future teachers, community leaders, and professionals. As we think of students like Gaby Pacheco and the impact they are currently making, let us imagine the potential impact -- and multiply it by 2.1 million. The America that we believe in, and that these idealistic youth believe in, would pass the Dream Act.

David Abraham (University of Miami)

Leisy Abrego (UCLA)

Art Acevedo (John Marshall Law School)

Jody Agius Vallejo (University of Southern California)

Gino Aisenberg (University of Washington)

Richard Alba (CUNY Graduate Center)

Raquel Aldana (University of the Pacific)

Gunnar Almgren (University of Washington)

Deborah E. Anker (Harvard)

Frances Aparicio (Northwestern University)

Annette R. Appell (Washington University)

Sabrineh Ardalan (Harvard)

Gabriela F. Arredondo (UC Santa Cruz)

Patricia Arredondo (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)

Judith F. Baca (UCLA)

Jonathan Bach (The New School)

Xóchitl Bada (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Beth Baker-Cristales (CSU Los Angeles)

Filiberto Barajas-López (University of Washington)

Bob Barde (UC Berkeley)

Frank D. Bean (UC Irvine)

Andrew Behnke (North Carolina State University)

Steven W. Bender (University of Oregon)

Michael Benitez Jr (Iowa State University)

Dina Birman (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Rosana Blanco-Cano (Trinity University)

Judith Blau (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Irene Bloemraad (UC Berkeley)

Sarah A. Blue (Northern Illinois University)

Thomas W. Blume (Oakland University)

Deborah A. Boehm (University of Nevada, Reno)

Grant Bogue (Western Illinois University)

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago (Rutgers)

Linda Bosniak (Rutgers)

Christopher Boyer (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Ethel Brooks (Rutgers University)

Susan K. Brown (UC Irvine)

Ronda Brulotte (University of New Mexico)

Simone Buechler (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Hoan N. Bui (University of Tennessee)

Kitty Calavita (UC Irvine)

Jose Zapata Calderon (Pitzer College)

Erik Camayd-Freixas (Florida International University)

Richard Cameron (U of Illinois at Chicago)

Anthony J. Cárdenas-Rotunno (University of New Mexico)

Miguel A. Carranza (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Enrique R. Carrasco (University of Iowa)

J. Manuel Casas (UC Santa Barbara)

Alejandra Castaneda (UC San Diego)

Ernesto Castañeda (University of Texas, El Paso)

Bianet Castellanos (University of Minnesota)

Miguel Ceballos (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Kara Cebulko (Providence College)

María Elena Cepeda (Williams College)

Jennifer M. Chacon (UC Irvine)

Robert S. Chang (Seattle University)

Jorge Chapa (University of Illinois)

Leo R. Chavez (UC Irvine)

Wai Kit Choi (CSU Los Angeles)

David Coates (Wake Forest University)

Kathleen Coll (Stanford University)

Dave Colnic (CSU Stanislaus)

Frances Contreras (University of Washington)

Maria Cook (Cornell University)

Mathew Coleman (Ohio State University)

Cary Cordova (University of Texas at Austin)

Wayne A. Cornelius (UC San Diego)

Mark Courtney (University of Chicago)

Susan Coutin (UC Irvine)

Elaine Cozort (Kishwaukee College)

Kyle Crowder (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Alicia Re Cruz (University of North Texas)

Cindy Cruz (UC Santa Cruz)

Evelyn H. Cruz (Arizona State University)

Paule Cruz Takash (UCLA)

Julia Curry Rodriguez (San Jose State University)

Heather M. Dalmage (Roosevelt University)

Els de Graauw (Baruch College)

Cileine de Lourenço (Bryant University)

Erin Debenport (University of New Mexico)

Alexandra Delano (The New School)

Louis Desipio (UC Irvine)

Pawan Dhingra (Oberlin College)

Eileen Diaz McConnell (Arizona State University)

Julie A. Dinsmore (University of Nebraska at Kearney)

Alesha E. Doan (University of Kansas)

Silvia Domínguez (Northeastern University)

Katharine M. Donato (Vanderbilt University)

S. Renee Domemeir (College of Saint Benedict, St. Johns University)

Roxanne Lynn Doty (Arizona State University)

Julie A. Dowling (University of Illinois)

Joanna Dreby (Kent State)

Cynthia V. Duarte (Notre Dame)

C. Alejandra Elenes (Arizona State University)

Irma Elo (University of Pennsylvania)

James P. Eyster (Ave Maria School of Law)

Cynthia Feliciano (UC Irvine)

Katherine Fennelly (University of Minnesota)

Patricia Fernandez-Kelly (Princeton University)

Les W. Field (University of New Mexico)

Eileen Findlay (American University)

Michelle Fine (CUNY Graduate Center)

Mary J. Fischer (University of Connecticut)

David Scott FitzGerald (UC San Diego)

Chenoa Flippen (University of Pennsylvania)

Estevan Flores (University of Colorado at Denver)

Nilda Flores-Gonzalez (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Nancy Foner (CUNY Graduate Center)

Cybelle Fox (UC Berkeley)

Jonathan Fox (UC Santa Cruz)

Luis R. Fraga (University of Washington)

Luis Fuentes-Rohwer (Indiana University)

Andrew J. Fuligni (UCLA)

Bruce Fuller (UC Berkeley)

Maryellen Fullerton (Brooklyn Law School)

Elizabeth Fussell (Washington State University)

Nancy Gallagher (UC Santa Barbara)

Alyshia Gálvez (Lehman College, CUNY)

Fred Galves (University of the Pacific)

Patricia Gándara (UCLA)

Herbert J Gans (Columbia University)

Emma R. García (Colby College)

Cynthia Garcia-Coll (Brown University)

John Garcia (University of Michigan)

Lisa García Bedolla (UC Berkeley)

Maria Elena Garcia (University of Washington)

María Cristina García (Cornell University)

Matthew Garcia (Brown University)

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (Capital University Law School)

Amelia Gavin (University of Washington)

Margaret A. Gibson (UC Santa Cruz)

Denise Gilman (University of Texas at Austin)

Shannon Gleeson (UC Santa Cruz)

Jennifer Glick (Arizona State University)

Placido Gomez (Phoenix School of Law)

Sherri Grasmuck (Temple University)

Frank Graziano (Connecticut College)

Anna Guevarra (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Evelyn Nakano Glenn (UC Berkeley)

Christina Gomez (Northeastern Illinois University)

Roberto G. Gonzales (University of Washington)

Jennifer A. Gonzalez (UC Santa Cruz)

Rachael D. Goodman (George Mason University)

Kirsten Silva Gruesz (UC Santa Cruz)

Anjum Gupta (University of Baltimore)

Elena R. Gutierrez (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Lourdes Gutierrez Najera (Dartmouth College)

Guillermo J. Grenier (Florida International University)

Jacqueline Hagan (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

William Haller (Clemson University)

Rebecca Hamlin (Grinnell College)

Elaine Hampton (University of Texas at El Paso)

Wen-Jui Han (Columbia University)

Emily Hannum (University of Pennsylvania)

Ron Hayduk (Queens College)

Ester Hernandez (CSU Los Angeles)

Francisca James Hernández (Pima Community College)

Manuel de Jesús Hernández-G (Arizona State University at Tempe)

Rubén Hernández-León (UCLA)

Josiah McC. Heyman (University of Texas at El Paso)

Jacqueline Hidalgo (Williams College)

Barbara Hines (University of Texas, at Austin)

Raul Hinojosa Ojeda (UCLA)

Charles Hirschman (University of Washington)

Katherine Hite (Vassar College)

Jennifer L. Hochschild (Harvard University)

Mark C. Holter (University of Kansas)

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (University of Southern California)

Jeff Hou (University of Washington)

Evelyn Hu-DeHart (Brown University)

Jon M. Hussey (University of North Carolina)

Alan Hyde (Rutgers University)

Armando Ibarra (University of Wisconsin)

Farah Ibrahim (University of Colorado at Denver)

Jonathan Inda (University of Illinois)

Michael Innis-Jiménez (University of Alabama)

Tomás Jiménez (Stanford University)

Kevin R. Johnson (UC Davis)

Susanne Jonas (UC Santa Cruz)

Michael Jones-Correa (Cornell University)

Hye-Kyung Kang (Smith College)

Daniel Kanstroom (Boston College)

Grace Kao (University of Pennsylvania)

Philip Kasinitz (CUNY Graduate Center)

Leila Kawar (Bates College)

Ben Kirshner (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Jean J. Kim (Dartmouth College)

Norma Klahn (UC Santa Cruz)

Lucas Klein (City University of Hong Kong)

J. Morgan Kousser (Caltech)

Kevin Kumashiro (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Nancy S. Landale (Pennsylvania State University)

Jean-Michel Lafleur (Université de Liège)

Rogelio Lasso (John Marshall Law School)

Sylvia R. Lazos (University of Nevada Las Vegas)

Eunice Lee (Harvard)

Jennifer Lee (UC Irvine)

Stephen H. Legomsky (Washington University)

Jeremy Lehnen (University of New Mexico)

Janxin Leu (University of Washington)

Emily Leung (Harvard)

Laura A. Lewis (James Madison University)

Matthew Lister (University of Pennsylvania)

Iraida H. López (Ramapo College of New Jersey)

Jose Antonio Lucero (University of Washington)

Amy Lutz (Syracuse University)

Aurolyn Luykx (University of Texas El Paso)

Beth Lyon (Villanova)

Patrisia Macias Rojas (Sarah Lawrence College)

Alejandro L. Madrid (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Arturo Madrid (Trinity University)

Daryl J. Maeda (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Lisa Magana (Arizona State University)

Pedro A. Malavet (University of Florida)

Solangel Maldonado (Seton Hall University)

Nicolas Mansito III (Broward College)

Christine Marin (Arizona State University)

Elena Marty-Nelson (Nova Southeastern University)

Helen B. Marrow (Tufts University)

H. Nolo Martinez (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Valerie Martinez-Ebers (University of North Texas)

Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel (Rutgers University)

Erynn Masi de Casanova (University of Cincinnati)

Douglas S. Massey (Princeton University)

Shannan L. Mattiace (Allegheny College)

Kathleen McAfee (San Francisco State University)

James A. McCann (Purdue University)

Elizabeth McCormick (University of Tulsa)

Susan McGilloway (The Community College of Baltimore County)

Ligaya L. McGovern (Indiana University)

John Mckiernan-Gonzalez (University of Texas at Austin)

M. Isabel Medina (Loyola University New Orleans)

Miguel A. Méndez (UC Davis)

Cecilia Menjívar (Arizona State University)

Ronald L. Mize (Cornell University)

Susham Modi (Harvard)

John Mollenkopf (CUNY Graduate Center)

Jessica Lavariega Monforti (The University of Texas, Pan American)

David Montejano (Univ of California, Berkeley)

Jennifer Moore (University of New Mexico)

Jaime Morales (University of Colorado-Boulder)

John Morán González (The University of Texas at Austin)

Charlie V. Morgan (Brigham Young University)

Judith Morganroth Schneider (University of Maryland Baltimore County)

Allan Morotti (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Michele S. Moses (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA)

Alison Mountz (Syracuse University)

David A. Muga (Skagit Valley College)

Aurelia Lorena Murga (University of Texas El Paso)

Ratnesh Biren Nagda (University of Washington)

Stephanie Nawyn (Michigan State University)

Joseph Nevins (Vassar College)

Lina Newton (Hunter College, CUNY)

Mae N. Ngai (Columbia University)

Alvaro L. Nieves (Wheaton College)

Katsuo Nishikawa (Trinity University)

Julie Novkov (SUNY Albany)

D. Carolina Núñez (Brigham Young University)

Mariela Nuñez -Janes (University of North Texas)

Stephen A. Nuño (Northern Arizona University)

Kysa Nygreen (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Suzanne Oboler (John Jay College, CUNY)

Leslie Offutt (Vassar College)

Roy Old Person (Wheelock College)

Michael A. Olivas (University of Houston)

Lorena Oropeza (UC Davis)

Vilma Ortiz (UCLA)

Amalia Pallares (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Hyunjoon Park (University of Pennsylvania)

John S.W. Park (UC Santa Barbara)

Yoosun Park (Smith College)

Emilio A. Parrado (University of Pennsylvania)

Manuel Pastor (University of Southern California)

Susan C. Pearce (East Carolina University)

Gina Perez - (Oberlin College)

Clarisa Perez-Armendariz (Bates College)

Carolyn Pinedo Turnovsky (UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington)

Katy M. Pinto (CSU Dominguez Hills)

Stephen Pitti (Yale University)

Suet-ling Pong (Penn State University)

Pamela A. Popielarz (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Alejandro Portes (Princeton University)

Dudley L. Poston, Jr. (Texas A&M University)

Hillary Potter (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Mike Powe (University of Washington)

Margaret Power (Illinois Institute of Technology)

Michael P. Predmore (Stanford University)

Doris Marie Provine (Arizona State University)

David Alberto Quijada (St. Mary's College of California)

Karthick Ramakrishnan (UC Riverside)

Catherine S. Ramírez (UC Santa Cruz)

Brian L. Rich (Transylvania University)

Jenny Rivera (CUNY)

Zully A. Rivera Ramos (University of Illinois)

Cristian A. Roa (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod (Nova Southeastern University)

Gloria M. Rodriguez (UC Davis)

Jaime Javier Rodriguez (University of North Texas)

Juana María Rodríguez (UC Berkeley)

Nestor Rodriguez (The University of Texas at Austin)

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Harriett Romo (University of Texas San Antonio)

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Rhacel Salazar Parrenas (University of Southern California)

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Hinda Seif (University of Illinois, Springfield)

Christina L. Sisk (University of Houston)

Santiago Silva (University of Texas, Pan American)

Heather A. Smith (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

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Robert C. Smith (Baruch College, CUNY Graduate Center)

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David Spener (Trinity University)

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John Stolle-McAllister (Univeristy of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Paula Straile-Costa (Ramapo College of New Jersey)

Dara Z. Strolovitch (University of Minnesota)

Carola Suárez-Orozco (NYU)

Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco (NYU)

Christina Sue (University of Colorado-Boulder)

María Socorro Tabuenca (University of Texas El Paso)

Rosaura Tafoya-Estrada (Boise State University)

David T Takeuchi (University of Washington)

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Karen Ivette Tejada-Peña (University of Hartford)

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Marta Tienda (Princeton University)

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Van C. Tran (Harvard University)

Monica M. Trieu (Ohio State University)

Alma M.O. Trinidad (Portland State University)

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Rita, E. Urquijo-Ruiz (Trinity University)

Sujey Vega (Sam Houston State University)

Zulema Valdez (Texas A&M University)

Edward D. Vargas (Indiana University)

Felipe Vargas (Indiana University)

Lucila Vargas (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

Monica W. Varsanyi (John Jay College, CUNY)

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Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez (Arizona State University)

Charles R. Venator Santiago (University of Connecticut)

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Vinay Harpalani (Seattle University)

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Jonathan Weinberg (Wayne State University)

Deborah Weissman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Emily Wexler Love (University of Colorado-Boulder)

Ron W. Wilhelm (University of North Texas)

William Julius Wilson (Harvard)

Philip E. Wolgin (UC Berkeley)

Maria Woltjen (University of Chicago)

Richard A. Wright (Dartmouth College)

Joseph E. Yi (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)

Hirokazu Yoshikawa (Harvard University)

Fahmida Zaman (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Marjorie Zatz (Arizona State University)

Pat Zavella (UC Santa Cruz)

Min Zhou (UCLA)

Marc Zimmerman (University of Houston)

Aristide R. Zolberg (New School for Social Research)