DREAM Act could generate $1.6 trillion

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The DREAM Act applies only to those who came to the United States under the age of 16 and plan to pursue at least two years of higher education or military service.

Dr. Raul Hinojosa, a University of California, Los Angeles professor and director of the North American Integration and Development Center, found that the estimated 825,000 legalized youths would generate between $1.4 trillion and $1.6 triillion in income over a work life of 40 years.

Dr. Raul Hinojosa: We took a conservative estimate of what they would likely achieve in terms of education and then after that, what type of jobs could they be getting and what that would contribute to the economy over the next 40 years. On that basis, we calculated income taxes, sales taxes, all types of financial benefits, without taking into account the fact that many of them are also probably going to end up buying houses, businesses and creating more jobs for the rest of society. This is simply a very conservative version of what their income will be over the next 40 years.

Madeleine Scinto: I was reading some arguments by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington DC, that basically says the DREAM Act is actually going to give broader amnesty than the 2 million that are estimated as a possibility because it’s going to be used as a back-door avenue by some students who get legal status and try to bring more people.

Dr. Hinojosa: I don’t believe that this is going to be a big back door. On the contrary, what we have seen from these legalization programs in the past, is that they end up having a lot less people actually apply, that could apply. The key thing we need to understand is that these are people who have already gone through the educational system. They want to contribute to society. Many of them are already in colleges, paying their own tuition, working very hard to be able to make something of their lives. It’s logical, a no brainer, that we would want as many people as possible to be able to pay in to the social security and the tax system and pay back, and if we keep them in the shadows right now, they will graduate, and they will not be able to work. That entire contribution will not be able to benefit the whole society and the fiscal benefit of our budget deficits at the moment.

Friends and students rally for the DREAM Act

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According to opinion polls, the DREAM Act may be one of the least controversial measures that has come before Congress in a very long time. A June Opinion Research poll found 70 percent of Americans are in favor of providing a path to citizenship for kids who grew up here.

And so is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. In fact, he is a co-sponsor of the bill. So why were Samantha Contreras and other DREAM Act supporters rallying in front of his Pasadena office?

“We’ve been working with him for many years, and he’s been on the fence,” Contreras said. “We want to make sure he keeps his word to us and votes yes.”

Schiff’s communications director, Maureen Shanahan, says he is not on the fence; he remains a co-sponsor of the bill. But activists are not taking any yes vote for granted. This will be the last chance to pass the DREAM Act before Republicans unfriendly to the bill take back the House in January.

The DREAM Act would affect up to 65,000 young men and women a year who graduate from American high schools after growing up in the here.

Those are young women and men like Felip Escobar. He is a student at Rio Hondo with a 3.0 grade point average; he is transferring to Cal State Northridge to study political science, and he was 12 years old when he came here illegally from Guatemala 10 years ago. He says he is a full citizen now. And he would like the same privileges for those who have come after him.

Escobar met with Schiff’s district director, while his fellow protesters held their banner for the few passing cars on Raymond Avenue. It was a much nicer reception than they got at Republican Congressman David Dreier’s San Dimas office just a couple of hours before.

“They told us they were too busy answering phone calls,” Contreras said.

Can you hear them now?