Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the DREAM Act on December 18, 2010 was a tragedy on two counts: first, thousands of young men and women have concluded their college/university studies, and they are now prepared to get jobs which will help our economy recover and thrive; but without legal residence status, they are barred from using their education.

Second, as taxpayers we invested huge sums of money in educating these young people, and now we just toss them aside. Using the figures from the Los Angeles Unified School District, a student going from kindergarten to twelfth grade would have cost the District $130,000 [$10,000 per year, 13 years](1). Assuming that this same student then attended California State University at Northridge, he/she would have cost the Cal State system $10,901 per year--a total of $43,604 for four years (2).

That is a grand total of $173,604 spent on that student. What an incredible investment in a young person who is now ready and eager to use his/her talents for the betterment of our country and our economy. And yet, short-sighted legislators seem to discount the true value of each young person in an undocumented status, and to discount the huge outlay of tax funds to education them.

Just when these young people are equipped to get a job and begin paying taxes, we toss them aside. Their only recourse is to find minimum wage work, much of it by being paid in cash with no taxes withheld.

This approach makes no sense whatsoever, and we as a nation end up depriving these young people--most of whom have grown up in the United States--of the opportunity to contribute to our society and to our economy.

The DREAM Act could accomplish so much for our nation and for our young adults who were brought here as minors years ago. That's why so many of us will continue our efforts to recognize the true value of these young people and to work to obtain legal status for them.

Let's not give up on our wonderful young people who are eager to make our country even greater!