Hear Me Out: Should the DREAM Act become law?

PHOENIX - Each Sunday, ABC15.com debuts an Arizona issue - along with two opposing sides on the topic.

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This week we're tackling the debate on the DREAM Act which would allow children brought to the United States by their undocumented parents the ability to earn their legal immigration status by completing higher education or serving in the military.

Daniel R. Ortega Junior, Phoenix Attorney & Immediate Past Chairman of National Council of La Raza says passing the act is a "no-brainer". He says President Obama's recent actions have brought "temporary respite to a situation that affects us all."

Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's immigration law S.B. 1070, says whether one agrees or disagrees with the DREAM Act, the decision belongs in Congress, not the Oval Office.

Click "next page" to read the first of two positions, "Passing DREAM, a no brainer"

"Passing DREAM, a no brainer": By Daniel R. Ortega Junior, Phoenix Attorney & Immediate Past Chairman of National Council of La Raza

The recent announcement by President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security that DREAM-eligible children and youth will have access to temporary relief from the threat of deportation begged the question, why has Congress not passed the DREAM Act?  For over ten years, the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act has been caught up in the politics that have so many Americans frustrated with Congress.  And it has been stuck regardless of the fact that it enjoys broad support from every facet of mainstream America, including business, labor, faith, education, and civil rights, to name a few.  The consequences of that inaction are unforgivable, and have led to mounting pressure on Congress and the Administration to act.  Tremendous advocacy efforts, personified by the actions of many brave young "DREAMers", finally led the Administration to make use of its legitimate administrative powers to provide temporary relief for these children, while Congress gets its act together.

The DREAM Act is a no brainer. This modest and sensible piece of legislation would allow undocumented young people who were brought to the United States at a very young age the ability to earn their legal immigration status by completing higher education or serving in the military.

Yes.  We are talking about kids, many brought here as babies, without a say over that act, who have grown up in this country and know no other as their home.  Many are now in our high schools, serving in student government, as star athletes, ROTC cadets, graduating often with honors.  Our country benefits immensely from the talent and drive to succeed that they demonstrate.  They want the chance to go on to college or serve in the military to continue giving back to the only country they have ever called home.   

Economic impact studies show that students covered under the "DREAM Act" will contribute at least one trillion dollars to the American economy over the course of their lifetimes.  Moreover, according to the Congressional Budget Office, enacting the "DREAM Act" would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion dollars over ten years.  The intangible benefits of investing in these students' futures, however, are immeasurable.

America cannot afford to lose another generation of young people who stand to contribute to its economic and social prosperity.  The beneficiaries of the "DREAM Act" are future teachers, nurses, and engineers.  The U.S. has invested in the education of many of these individuals since kindergarten, and it is only fitting that we enable them to serve and contribute, allowing our nation to reap the benefits.

What the President has done brings temporary respite to a situation that affects us all.  Now it's time for Congress to do its job and bring about a more lasting solution not only to the lives of these children, but to the nation as a whole over the issue of immigration.  Congress should pass the DREAM Act and build on that to bring about the comprehensive immigration reform solutions our country so desperately needs.

Do you agree with this opinion? Add a comment below to sound off.

Click "next page" to read the second of two positions, "DREAM Act decision belongs in Congress, not the Oval Office"

"DREAM Act decision belongs in Congress, not the Oval Office": By Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's immigration law S.B. 1070

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Dream Act, the decision belongs in the halls of Congress and not the Oval Office. Under our Constitution, the President cannot enact, change or choose to ignore our laws. Yet President Obama has done just that.

There is no question that it is illegal under federal law to enter this Republic without approval and to remain after entering illegally. Further, it is a felony under federal law to employ a person who has entered our country illegally. Those laws are still on the books, only Congress can make those changes.

President Obama's actions, which by some estimates will allow more than one million illegal aliens to remain in the country, may seem like an easy fix to a challenging problem, but allowing over a million people to enter the workforce just as we are experiencing one of the highest unemployment rates in over 26 years is foolish and also dangerous. That number will include many serious criminal aliens that have not been caught and charged YET.  This ill-conceived plan will encourage others to enter the country illegally. It incentivizes people to risk their lives in a treacherous attempt to cross the desert or put their children's lives in the hands of human smugglers. We all feel great sadness for the children who have been innocent victims and were brought to this country illegally, but the solution is not back-door amnesty and side-stepping our Constitution. What happens to these same kids if the next President doesn't agree and rescinds the policy? This won't bring anyone out of the "shadows", it traps a group of people between the law and the current President's unconstitutional actions.

We must enforce our laws with compassion, but without apology or they mean nothing. Laws without consequences are not laws at all. The proper steps must be followed to change any law. This is part of our very foundation as outlined in Articles I, II and III of our Constitution that place a separation of powers in this Republic.  No President, no matter which political party they are aligned with, cannot legally disregard the Constitution with the stroke of a pen. If the President doesn't have the votes he needs to pass the Dream Act legislation, perhaps that is a sign that Congress and by extension, We the People, are not in agreement that this is the right solution. We have a Constitutional process to be honored and only Congress may change the law.

Some will unfairly characterize this position as anti-Hispanic, that couldn't be further from the truth. In the USA, we embrace and appreciate all cultures. We are a nation with a rich immigrant heritage (legal). Americans are interested in national security, improving the economy, job growth, and in the values of faith and family. And all Americans should be leery of any President who makes law by "decree", side stepping the Constitution to gain political advantage. Amnesty by any name is not a good solution and the citizens cannot be left out of this debate as we try and reach a real consensus and a real solution.

Do you agree with this opinion? Add a comment below to sound off.

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