“Gang of Eight” May Help Make American Dream a Reality

Democrats and Republicans are coming together to resolve one of the major issues discussed throughout the election year: Immigration. A group of eight senators; four Demo­crats and four Republicans came up with an immigration proposal that they hope Congress will pass by spring or summer.

The Immigration Reform that is going to be proposed by March calls for undocumented citizens to go through a process in order to become a part of the United States. Immi­grants already living in the country will be permitted to stay and work while undergoing the process to be­come legal citizens. The bill requires them to go through the procedure of background checks, paying fines, back taxes, and English and Ameri­can Civics courses that they must take over a couple of years.

According to ABC News, the en­tire process will take up to 15 years, and that is for them to be eligible for citizenship, for which they will have to “get in the back of the line.”

For students, there is a different story. Any foreign student who grad­uates from an American University with a Ph.D. or Master Degree in sci­ence, technology, engineering and mathematics will be offered their green card to stay in the country.

However, undocumented citizens cannot begin this process until the borders are said to be “Secure.”

The “Gang of Eight,” as they are being referred to on Capitol Hill consist of New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D), New Jersey Senator Bob Menedez (D), Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), Arizona Senator John McCain (R), Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R), South Carolina Sena­tor Lindsey Graham (R), and Colo­rado Senator Michael Bennet (D).

It is believed that the bi-partisan group has come together after the importance of immigration was shown in the past presidential elec­tion. The President out performed Governor Romney with support from seven out of ten Latino votes. This led to the Republicans needing to come to terms with the need for immigration reform in order to get the Latino support.

According to Senator Chuck Schumer, “The politics on this issue have been turned upside down, for the first time ever there is more po­litical risk in opposing immigration reform, than in backing it.”

Senator John McCain, who was an advocate for immigration reform in 2007 has attempted to pass a plan that he worked on with the late Senator Ted Kennedy that was never passed.

McCain is quoted in an ABC News article saying, “We have been too content for too long to allow indi­viduals to mow our lawns, grow our food, clean our homes, and even watch our children while not afford­ing them any of the benefits that make our country so great.”

Sociology professor Alan Foster agrees it’s time for a change in the immigration process.

“The entire Immigration process we have right now and have had for a long time is stupid, insensitive and unnecessarily bureaucratic… If people, particularly families, are willing to come here and work, and work hard, and become part of the American Dream then more power to them,” said Foster.

Foster continues, “Also, if young people come here to study, why not allow them to continue their exper­tise, and put what they have learned and their skills to good use in this country? And definitely NOT put them at the end of the line, which would mean about ten years of plac­ing them in limbo… What ever hap­pened to the real Dream Act any­way?”

The proposal by the “Gang of Eight” is one that President Obama is optimistic about due to its similari­ties to his own.

He is quoted saying that the pro­posal is “very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and cam­paigned on for the last few years. So at this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon, and that’s very encouraging. But this time, action must follow.”

The only difference between the two proposals are that the President is not for stricter borders first.

Barbara Caparn Nitzberg, Assis­tant Director International Students and Faculty Services, thinks that students being offered green cards would be a popular idea.

“It really depends on the stu­dent though, and the country. Some countries, students are obligated to go back because of the scholarships that they were offered which allow their country to pay for their educa­tion. Yet some students fall in love, or have lives here and would prefer to stay here after graduation,” said Nitzberg.

Kelly Printon, a junior social work major, said, “I believe that greater measures should be implemented to help strengthen border controls and crack down on the hiring of undocumented workers, however, I do not agree that those who are cur­rently illegally living in the country should be placed in the back of the line for citizenship. Why should they be punished for the government’s lax supervision of its borders?”

Although the President has not been strict on the borders, he has been very strict with deportations.

Under President Obama’s first term, his administration has deport­ed 1.6 million undocumented citi­zens, setting a new record.

According to a New York Times article, the Obama administration spent $18 billion on immigration re­form, making “detaining and deport­ing illegal immigrants, immigration control has become the federal gov­ernment’s highest criminal law en­forcement priority.”

There has been some controversy over the administration spending so much on deportation, especially in the current recession.

Printon continues, “The process to become a legal citizen in the U.S. should be easier, because it would, in the long term, pay for itself. More legal citizens means more citizens’ taxes going into the local and federal budgets.

We spend more federally ‘cracking down’ on illegal citizens than we do allowing them to live in our country because despite contrary belief, ille­gal citizens do not and cannot benefit from any of our country’s social wel­fare programs. Without proper and necessary documentation, which illegals do not have, one is not even qualified for aid from social welfare programs. Therefore illegal citizens are not an expense, but the ineffec­tive regulation of them is.”

The costs that have been funding the deportation process are only an­other reason to stress the importance and need for the Immigration Re­form bill to be presented.

The President, however, reminds us all that “This not just a debate about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story. And throughout our history, that’s only made our nation stronger.”