Debating the DREAM act

There is no shortage of weighty issues plaguing the youth of our country. High school graduates and college-bound students have multiple topics to debate as they try to establish a vision for their future. But with the “grown-up world’s” failure to come up with real solutions to the nation’s chronic immigration mess, the problem just keeps getting passed on to the next generation.

Maybe that’s why one popular piece of legislation, the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, tends to grab the attention of young people as they consider the fate of their peers in the U.S. education system. The bill offers permanent residency to undocumented minors who have graduated from a U.S. high school. It is a complicated path to citizenship, with many details to contend with, but many believe it is the proper way to handle the humanitarian considerations of minors who would otherwise be punished for the sins of their parents.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the conservative grassroots group, the South Florida 912, two young, educated and spirited men debated the pros and cons of this legislation and how they see the practical and constitutional merits of the proposed bill. Both men, Austin Parris and Francisco Rodriguez, ran unsuccessfully last year for seats in the Florida House –Parris in District 85 and Rodriguez in District 83. Rodriguez, a politically active businessman, is strongly opposed to the Department of Education, and the Dream Act itself, due to what he sees as constitutional concerns, while Paris, who is still in college, has consistently argued for passage of the bill, citing mostly humanitarian and economic reasons.

The two were allowed equal time to discuss the topic, and answer audience questions. The emotional summary (included video) from both gentlemen was a testament to the passion that accompanies the issue. The name of the bill itself evokes much of the sentiment expressed by both debaters.

To see the text of the legislation, go here. Under word/phrase, type in bill # S. 729 (in the Senate) orH.R. 1751 (in the House).

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Michele Kirk

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