Archives for July 2012

The DREAM Act and our Military

The United States has had a long history of foreigners fighting with us in our conflicts both at home and abroad. There also has been a fair share of problems with this relationship. Instituting the DREAM Act is one thing we could do to prevent spies and saboteurs from infiltrating our ranks is to offer them citizenship. This is a highly valued prize in many nations around the globe, and could be more than others are willing to pay for their allegiance.

If someone is willing to put their life on the line to defend this country, then not offering them citizenship and not allowing them to be a part of the democratic process for which they made that sacrifice is a crime of the highest magnitude. Their sacrifice is a demonstration of their commitment to us, and our good faith return of appreciation for this should demonstrate the respect of a grateful nation. No one who has served in the armed services of the United States of America should be denied any of the benefits and responsibilities of this country. Ask any veteran.

But respect and gratitude is not all there is to this subject. If we are not willing to follow through with our commitment to them, what would prevent them from reneging on their commitment to us? A half-committed soldier is not the person anyone would want to be out on patrol with. Our men and women need to trust 100% that the person next to them is going to be there when the stuff hits the fan.

Having non-citizens in our military at all seems like a direct conflict of interest with our national security. Which country will that person side with if we should go to war in their home country? We have only to look toward Iraq and Afghanistan to see current examples of how our military is attacked while working with soldiers of “friendly” countries.

Will they be effective in their mission knowing that soon they will be sent home as civilians and have to face their neighbors for the actions they performed while their allegiances were given to a foreign country?

Will they be able to kill if needed, knowing they might be related to, or grew up with the person in the vehicle they just blew up?

Will they be able to go back home and forget all the things we made them do to their fellow countrymen?

Will their friends and neighbors understand and forgive them?

It is because of these possible conflicts of interest, and more, that all military personnel should be citizens on the day they graduate basic training. Anything less does neither the US, nor our citizen soldiers any good. It does even less for the immigrant.

The DREAM Act, if designed better than our Republican politicians would like, could help us correct this problem, and ensure a stronger, more secure military defense.

The DREAM Act and Students

The DREAM Act has a lot to offer students who were brought to the United States as children. It has even more to offer the US.

The United States’ college and university system attracts some of the best students from all over the world. A college diploma from a US private college or state university is built on cutting edge information, making it extremely valuable.

Aside from the education they receive, students will often intern at companies within their fields of study, gaining practical experience in their industry. This marriage of education and experience makes them exceptional candidates for the workforce and creates some of the most sought after graduates on the planet.

If that weren’t enough of an incentive to come to the United States to study, we also have a vibrant community of investors who are always looking for the next big thing. Large complexes of specialized industries are often set up near colleges and universities that are known for excellence in a specific field.

Combine all these elements into one localized and easy to access area, and we have created a very nurturing environment for product and company creation. This also enables young startups to hire talented people and speed their product to market.

Silicon Valley is just one example of such an environment. When you combine Stanford University with Hewlitt-Packard, Apple Computer, Google, Facebook, Oracle, Intel and Sand Hill Road, you can see how such an ecosystem functions with amazing speed and strength. It’s no wonder that other parts of the nation have created industrial ecosystems surrounding their educational institutions as well.

So, it is with good reason many people come here from around the world to study and increase their chances for a good life. If we make it a priority to send these educated and talented people back home when their student visas expire, investors will be reluctant to pump money into a future product or company, knowing all of their investment in time and money will be going back home with them. The venture capitol community will not want to see their dollars exported to other countries with little hope of recouping their investments. This means less money will be put into work in our country to produce products and jobs, and our many micro economies scattered across our nation will feel this effect. Add to this misery the creation of a highly competent competitor in another nation, and the recipe for our economic success is dubious.

Since we are the ones who trained the student and gave them access to our considerable knowledge-base and investment resources, shouldn’t we be the ones who benefit from this ecosystem as well? Could you imagine what our national impact on technology would be like if we deported Sergey Brin of Google? Andy Grove of Intel? Andreas von Bechtolsheim and Vinod Khosla, co-founders of Sun Microsystems? Just those four (and there are many, many more) would have changed the face of our nation incredibly. Four people. That’s all it would take to create monstrous competitors in other countries, and if some people were to have their way, it would become policy to send these kids home when their studies were completed.

Throughout American history we have taken in immigrants, making it one of our national heritages. College graduates could easily be considered some of the best human capitol other countries are producing. How could we not want them?

When a company has a highly prized product or commodity, they are usually quick to take advantage of all the benefits it can bring them. Our educational system is one of our nations most prized institutions. We should be capitalizing on this resource and exploiting it’s potential for generating wealth and jobs inside our country. This is not a zero-sum gain. We need all the help we can get to stay competitive and financially strong. Are we so afraid of internal competition that we will purposely reduce our talent pool at the expense of raising our competitor’s? If we would we be so willing to export one of our greatest national resources to other nations, we might as well raise a flag of surrender right now and crown some other country as the new “Alpha” dog, and watch their strength and influence grow. They will obviously want it more than we do.

Our American can-do attitude got us where we are today: the world’s greatest innovator and financial powerhouse. If we are to stop our decline and stay ahead of increasing global competition, we will need to dig deep into our national strengths and step-up our competitive game, not export our resources and step-it-down.

For more information on how the DREAM Act will benefit our nation, read my new book, “America Needs A DREAM.”

Where is the DREAM today?

There are rumors of a new DREAM Act being developed by Senator Marco Rubio. He hasn’t provided any details yet, but his new DREAM Act will have one thing that the other three versions didn’t: a Republican author.

But what about the Democrats? Why would this version of the DREAM Act pass through Congress when theirs didn’t? Perhaps having a resentful Democratic veto is exactly what the Republicans are hoping for. Then they will be able to blame the Democrats for this stalemate, conveniently forgetting all of their own previous acts of sabotage.

No matter who you think is to blame for our constant inability to push immigration legislation through the Senate, one thing is for certain: any version of the DREAM Act conjured up by the Republicans will undoubtedly leave the immigrant as far from legal citizenship as possible.

The Republicans know they have done a great job of enflaming the Latino population. They cannot provide a path for undocumented immigrants to receive citizenship, even ten years from now, for fear the Latino voters will long remember the hardship they had to endure because of their shameful conservative attitudes and harsh anit-immigrant positions. New Latino voters will become a large and powerful anti-Republican force.

The DREAM Act as it stands right now has been crafted by both Democrats and Republicans. If that won’t help it pass through Congress, it stands to reason nothing will. Evidence of this position is clear from recent comments of some Republicans who are still labeling the latest, most stripped down version of the DREAM Act as “back door amnesty.”

I urge you to read the article below on the DREAM Act and what it really says about the bill, in its latest iteration. How could any sane person see this as a gift that will be used by masses of undeserving people? It is so restrictive and sets the bar so high for those to qualify and still doesn’t guarantee anyone citizenship– just the opportunity to apply for it. These will be smart, ambitious, strong, sacrificing people of high moral character who show a high probability for positive social and economical growth. Who wouldn’t want these fine young people to be a part of their nation?

DREAM Act text