A study through the North American Integration and Development Center, an extension of the University of California in Los Angeles, entitled “No DREAMers Left Behind” seeks to address potential underlying traits of the DREAM Act. The study’s authors Raul Hinojosa Ojeda and Paule Cruz Takesh introduce the DREAM Act as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, a bipartisan bill introduced to Congress in 2001. In effect, this act allows for undocumented minors brought to the United States before the age of sixteen to acquire legalization. This occurs through one of two paths, attending college and obtaining an Associate’s Degree, or two years of military service. While there has been a great deal of debate over the course of the following ten years, Ojeda and Takesh aim to point out definite economic benefits of the DREAM Act over the course of forty years.
Because the prerequisite of legalization involves the acquisition of an Associate’s Degree at minimum, the DREAM Act seeks to add many to a higher earning bracket based on education alone. Albeit unrealistic, if all 2.1 million eligible undocumented immigrants sought legalization through this manner, the DREAM Act could generate nearly $3.6 trillion to the United States’ economy over the course of forty years, and that is a narrow perspective. It is nearly impossible to truly detail the ways in which benefits could be measured – the overall average education of our workforce would be increased, and there is an argument to be made that the income generated by this workforce would parallel. Just as well, higher education could parallel progress in medicine, science, and technology in the future. Ojeda and Takesh call this perfect participation record “No DREAMers Left Behind.”
There are three tools that the team uses in analyzing the benefits of the act in a realistic manner. First, the duo takes information from the Migration Policy Institute which looks at migration policies on the smallest and largest scales and is considered to present non-biased results. What the Migration Policy Institute presents is four separate groups of those eligible and a percentage that would participate in the DREAM Act from each respective group. For instance, the 18 – 34 age group with college education yields the highest number of candidates. Following that group are 18 – 34 year olds without a college education, but having a high school degree. Next are those under 18 years old. And finally, the least likely to participate are those who are 18 – 34 without a high school degree, since they will face the toughest challenges in seeking legalization. The projected total from these participants comes to be 825,000 out of the eligible 2.1 million. Next, Ojeda and Takesh utilize a 2008 report from the National Center for Education, which measures the earning capacity for each level of education attainment. Finally, the authors combine this information with their Military Median Income Sources, which consist of the U.S. Army Benefits web site and information from salary.com, yet in effect provides a great deal of room for error in their study.
The authors create distinct path possibilities for the participants of the DREAM Act, both in their rationalized Migration Policy Institute based figures and their “No DREAMers Left Behind” perfect world figures. These paths consist of the respective totals (825,000 vs. 2.1 million) and find percentages of those that would opt for an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate, Military service, or any combination thereof post-legalization. The impacts of both scenarios are huge, yet diverse, with the Institute’s figures returning $1.38 trillion and the “No DREAMers Left Behind” figures returning $3.6 trillion. The team goes on to challenge the Migration Policy Institute’s knowingly conservative figures. They state that these figures take into account particular cultural boundaries that would prevent those eligible from taking part in the DREAM Act (i.e. language barriers, financial obstacles, fathering or mothering a child). However, Ojeda and Takesh remain firm in their belief that a great deal more would wish to take advantage of the opportunity, and it would be realistic to imagine figures much higher than those presented by the Migration Policy Institute. They certainly wish to DREAM big.