Friday, June 25, 2010

The "Dream Act" Would be a Nightmare

The so-called "Dream Act" would allow illegal immigrants to attend our most prestigious universities, and at in-state tuition. For reasons, I explain below, it would bring great, great, net harm.

I received a spam advocating the Dream Act from Mohammad Abdollahi, co-founder of Here are the operative excerpts: "Over the last year we have made great gains fighting for the DREAM Act. We have managed to convince 40 senators and 124 representatives to co-sponsor it... We know you are all ready to fight for three days of escalating action: Mass DREAM Mobilization to show our collective power in demanding the movement of the DREAM Act in congress. Actions include lobbying, graduation ceremony, a DREAM concert, multiple rallies and more."

Here is the letter I wrote in response:

Dear Mohammad,

Ultimately, the so-called Dream Act will do more harm than good. Because there are limited slots at prestigious colleges, the "Dream Act" would deny admission to students with higher grades, test scores, English-speaking skills and, in turn, greater potential to solve societal problems. For what purpose? So colleges can admit students with worse grades, test scores, and English-speaking skills? That, of course, would occur because of the defacto reverse-discrimination admission policies, especially at our prestigious universities.

In addition, you will have increased enmity against immigrants among the students and their parents of legal residents (who pay for much of the cost of public AND private universities) who will have been denied admission, for example, to Harvard, Michigan, etc, so that a child of someone in the country illegally could attend--at in-state rates. Imagine how a legal resident of Arizona would feel who applied to Berkeley or UCLA with A grades and 1200 SAT scores--They would likely be rejected in favor of an illegal immigrant with worse grades in a less rigorous curriculum and with lower test scores. And to put salt in the wound, even if that legal resident is admitted, s/he would be forced to pay the exorbitant out-of-state tuition whereas the illegal immigrant would pay in-state tuition.

Think of the anger (perhaps not expressed in public for fear of being labeled a racist) such a policy would engender, in the student, the parents, and all their friends, when they recount the impacts of the "Dream Act." Think of how much resentment toward minorities would increase.

Mohammad, can you not think of a more fruitful cause to advocate for? For example, if you're interested in helping immigrants, why not spearhead an English tutoring program for legal immigrants. My parents are first-generation immigrants and their having perseveringly focused on becoming fluent in English was key to their achieving a measure of success--They ended up making a middle-class living and I grew up in a decent apartment in Flushing, Queens, NY.

I hope you find this letter worth the time I took to write it.

Wishing you well,

Marty Nemko


Anonymous said...

What makes you think all student "illegal" immigrants are of color?
There are Italian ,Greek, Russian, Korean, students that yes are indeed illegal ! Not because they crossed the border illegaly, but because their papers didn't go through, or they got denied right after their visas got expired. Also about the grades argument you have ... most foreign students here achieve goals, only American kids these days would "dream" of. And uhm... our colleges are NOT running out of space. We are actually going to need students by 2018 to be able to keep these "prestigious" colleges and universities open, since the high school and college dropout rates are at their highest.

Go meet someone that has been here, and has to live through this torture ... and before posting stupid blog posts trashing the Dream Act, consider yourself being one of these students and stop being narrow minded.


Marty Nemko said...

I dislike fact-light comments especially when dispensed snarkily and dismissing my blog post with such broad-brush adjectives as "stupid." One may disagree with me but I daresay it's hyperbolic to call any of my posts stupid. I was tempted to reject your comment but decided, "What the hell." Responses:

1. I neither said nor implied that "all" illegal immigrants are of color. I merely argued that many, probably the majority of illegal immigrants have inferior English skills compared with native speakers.

2. A relatively small proportion of illegals are here because "their papers didn't go through" or some such.

3. Prestigious colleges are NOT experiencing nor projected to experience a shortage of applicants. Indeed, in our ever more brand-name-driven society and in an era when it's ever harder even for college graduates to get a job, student applications to designer-label colleges are UP. Giving slots to less qualified illegal immigrants is, truly, cosmically unfair.

3. And please, whether you're writing to me or others, refrain from ad hominem comments such as calling my blog post "stupid." If I were to be as snarky as you, I'd be tempted to assert that it's the pot calling the kettle black.

Anonymous said...

to annonymous: his blog post isn't stupid it just has a different insight and opinion as yours.

Marty: illegal immigrants do not take spots from legal immigrants if an illegal is accepted and a legal resident isn't its because the illegal immigrant beat out the legal immigrant in certain categories ex: grades and/ or extracurricular activities. Universities take priorities which is transfers and high grades and test scores because they want a as their graduating percentage and prestige as high as it can get. so if a legal immigrant got accepted and a illegal didn't that means they beat out the illegal and the vice versa so they didn't "take" a slot they simply competed for it. competition is what makes our country progress. :)

Marty Nemko said...

Alas, most recent Anonymous, it is not as simple as that. Many colleges use various overt and covert selection criteria (e.g., marketing to and ensuring equal representation from high-minority zip codes of residence) to increase the number of minorities, even if less qualified. Why? Colleges balance their desire to be selective against the significant pressures (especially at public universities) to convince liberal legislators and others that they're doing a lot to recruit and retain African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Remember, the politicians hold lots of the college's purse strings. That which controls the money, usually controls the behavior.

Anonymous said...

It's my opinion. You have the freedom to write on this blog, and I have the freedom to comment expressing my opinion. These kids were brought here extremely young. Children qualifying for the " Dream Act" DO speak English, and i know that firsthand since I teach them. They are very bright and you and me both know that deporting all these kids and their parents would be costly and time consuming. So what would you rather? Some sort of immigration reform to create some sort of organization, or nothing?

Thanks for your time.

Marty Nemko said...

False choice: Dream Act vs Deportation. The right choice, for reasons I've identified in earlier posts is making it illegal to hire illegals.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dr. Nemko. It's bills like this that herald a coming backlash, which will be far more severe than it needs to be. Once affluent white people stop being afraid of being called racist––which is already starting to happen in some places––things could get ugly fast. What political pressure, if any, would there be for minority representation if the biggest donors become neutral or cool to diversity?

Sadly I don't see how this could be stopped. Racism is a little bit like the boy who cried wolf, only by the time there really was a wolf nobody believed him.

ALP said...

Whenever the this issue, and issues related to it (minority issues outside of higher ed) the same question pops up in my head, which I have outlined below. Marty, maybe you have an answer.

What is the origin for the belief that:

1. You can isolate a specific element of US culture (such as higher ed, small businesses, the glass ceiling...)

2. Examine the demographics of said element, say, senior executives working in San Francisco...

3. Examine the demographics of the surrounding area...

4. Compare the two with the idea that the only acceptable outcome is if they mirror each other exactly. For example: if the population of African Americans in San Francisco is 9% - then 9% of senior executives should be black. Also, 9% of small business owners should be black...9% of the veterinarians should be black...9% of dentists should be black...and so on.

Here is another example if I have not been articulate enough. A few years ago, the Seattle Times ran an article decrying the fact that men owning condos in the downtown core outnumbered women. My first thought was: "well, what percentage of women versus men consider the downtown core their number one spot to live?" Without this baseline data, it is impossible to ascertain whether this is a problem or not. Maybe this location is more attractive to men? I saw no evidence that anyone was interested in this fact - that questions was not posed. They saw, instead, this terribly inequality - the demographics of home ownership in the downtown core did not mirror the surrounding demographics. If half the surrounding population is female...well, then EVERYTHING must reflect this - and there are some that will not rest until these perceived "wrongs" are righted.

My gut response to this is that life just isn't that NEAT, tidy and organized. All efforts to make it so will fail.

What is the origin for this FETISH for perfect numbers? Can it be traced back to anything specific, such as a study, ect...?

Marty Nemko said...

We are so afraid of being racist that we often throw out all multivariate rationality in favor of mere numerical "parity." Sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

I am here illegaly and I have been for about 20 yrs. I am 23 yrs old my parents brought me when I was 3.. This is my home! And it is a home 2 thousands of others just like me.. I didn't ask 2 come here I didn't pack my bags @ 3 yrs old take a taxi 2 the airport and fly 2 the united states.I was raised here I went 2 elementry and high school. I then decided to go 2 cosmetology school cause I love making peple feel good. When they look good they feel good.. So as someone that says the dream act is the worst bill ever what do u have 2 say 2 someone like me? I work hard everyday sweeping hair washing hair answering phones doing bs jobs that I don't want 2 do cause I cannot get my cosmetology license and I'm good I'm reall good @ what I do..I take the bus for. 4 hrs a day 2 hrs 2 get 2 work 2 hrs 2 get home. I have no problem doing it. I'm not looking for pitty or anything all I'm looking for is the opportunity 2 build my life, 2 be able 2 support my self. Their are thousands of people like me.we didn't ask 2 come here we were brought here and we were forced 2 live here and build our lives here and now this is it! Is is my home! This is all I know! USA I love it here! I don't even know how 2 speak spanish any more and its sad but true. English is all I know. So what do u have 2 say 2 people like me? Oh well to bad for u? Nobody said life is fair? What? Tell me what am I suppose to do? The dream act is my only hope andi pray to god they pass it!


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