The Dreamer Corps is a game-changer. It can pass the Dream Act. It can provide billions of dollars for Dreamer scholarships. And it can help Dreamers take their place among America’s next generation of leaders.
The Dreamer Corps isn’t just a new idea; it’s a new paradigm: Dreamers as part of the solution to illegal immigration, not part of the problem. How? By battling the root causes of illegal immigration - poverty, crime and violence – south of America’s border. And helping build secure and prosperous communities here at home.
Here’s how it would work: The Dreamer Corps would be a ten-year program in which an elite cadre of up to 25,000 Dreamers would earn Permanent Legal Residency and a fast-track to citizenship by:
Battling poverty, crime and violence in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador through a Peace Corps-style program, but with wages for recruits starting at the median U.S. income, rather than the minimal stipends provided in the Peace Corps.
Starting job-creating businesses in those countries through a program providing grants, loans, and business mentorship.
Building stronger communities and resilient local economies in the U.S. through an Americorps-style program.
Creating a more secure America through U.S. military service (now barred for undocumented U.S. residents).
But the Dreamer Corps goes further. It opens the door to all 2.5 million Dreamers to earn Permanent Legal Residency and a path to citizenship, by funding the Dreamer Corps. Fees would range from $500/year for the majority of Dreamers to $5,000/year for Dreamers earning over $100,000/year. The more than $1 billion generated per year would be dedicated entirely to the Dreamer Corps to provide living wages for recruits, college scholarships, business grants and loans, and program management.
The Dreamer Corps can smash the barriers to passing a Dream Act, because it grants legalization and pathways to citizenship - the very things that Dreamers have sought for so long - while also addressing the concerns of past opponents of the Dream Act, by battling illegal immigration at its source. It's a win-win-win: it helps Dreamers, it helps America better manage immigration, and it lifts up the people of the four host countries. What's more, it does all this through the American values of national service and entrepreneurship.
The Dreamer Corps could catapult Dreamers into leadership roles throughout America, and create a new narrative of immigrants as heroes in the fight for a better America. It's time has come.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. WOULD DREAMERS BE REQUIRED TO SERVE IN THE DREAMER CORPS?
No. Dreamers would only serve if they chose to, in order to obtain a good salary, career advancement, the chance to make a difference, college scholarship opportunities, and a fast-track to U.S. citizenship.
2. WHY WOULD DREAMERS WANT TO RISK THE VIOLENCE OF THE COUNTRIES THEIR PARENTS FLED?
For the same reasons that 150,000 young Americans enlist in the U.S. military each year: honor, duty, and courage; a belief that they can make a difference; a desire for adventure; and a path to a better life for themselves and their families. Fifteen percent of Americans who turn 18 each year are willing to serve in the military. Only 1% of the 2.5 million Dreamers would need to volunteer to achieve the goal of 25,000 Dreamer Corps recruits over ten years.
Enrollees could choose to serve elsewhere than the country where they were born, if they feared reprisal, and instead could serve in one of the other three host countries, or in the U.S.
Because Dreamers’ ties to their birth countries go back for generations. Many Dreamers still have family members living in the countries they came from. Dreamers may have left when young, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still feel affinity for their birthplaces. Where we’re from is part of who we are, especially in America, a country of immigrants. Improving the lives of the places where we’re from is a basic human drive.
3. WHY NOT SEEK LEGALIZATION AND A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP WITHOUT THE DREAMER CORPS?
Such attempts have failed for nearly twenty years. With political polarization greater than almost any time in our history, the stalemate may continue indefinitely. There has been a constant battle for either side to gain the upper hand. The Dreamer Corps could be the game-changer that breaks the impasse in the Dreamers’ favor. Despite a new president and a narrow margin of Congressional control by the Democrats, passage of a Dream Act using the same approaches as have been tried for twenty years is far from a sure thing. And there is a narrow window to try to get a Dream Act passed before the mid-term elections put a halt to legislative action. That’s just the reality of American politics.
The Dreamer Corps can catapult Dreamers into leadership roles in America. Unlike the past approaches to the Dream Act, the Dreamer Corps goes further by supporting Dreamers in forging a visible presence as leaders in American society, transforming the narrative about the roles of immigrants in America’s future.