The Dreamer Corps is a game-changer. It can pass the Dream Act. It can provide funding for Dreamer scholarships and grants and loans for Dreamer-owned businesses. And it can help Dreamers continue to take their place among America’s next generation of leaders.
The Dreamer Corps is a whole new paradigm: Dreamers as part of the solution to illegal immigration, not part of the problem. How? By deploying an elite cadre of several thousand Dreamers to Central America to address the root causes of illegal immigration - poverty, crime and violence. And by deploying other Dreamers to help build secure and prosperous communities here at home.
Here’s how it would work: Dreamers who volunteer for the Dreamer Corps would earn Lawful Permanent Resident status and a fast-track to citizenship by:
Addressing poverty, crime and violence in Central America through a Peace Corps-style program, earning good wages and receiving leadership training and skills.
Starting businesses that create jobs in Central America, with eligibility for grants, loans, and entrepreneurial mentorship.
Building stronger communities and local economies in the U.S. through an Americorps-style program.
Creating a more secure America through U.S. military service (now mostly barred for undocumented U.S. residents).
But the Dreamer Corps goes further. All 2.5 million+ Dreamers would be eligible to earn Lawful Permanent Residency and a path to citizenship, by supporting the Dreamer Corps through an annual fee, ranging from $500/year for the majority of Dreamers to $5,000/year for Dreamers earning over $100,000/year. The fee would end once U.S. citizenship was obtained. More than $1 billion could be generated per year, dedicated entirely to the Dreamer Corps to provide good salaries for recruits, college scholarships and loan forgiveness, business grants and loans, and program management.
By including the Dreamer Corps in the Dream Act, the legislation can finally pass, because the Dream Act will bridge the political divide in Congress: it will grant legalization and pathways to citizenship - the things that Dreamers have sought for so long - while also battling illegal immigration at its source. It's a win-win-win solution: it helps Dreamers, it helps America, and it betters the lives of the people of Mexico and Central America. 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 showcase immigrants as heroes in the fight for a better America. The Dreamer Corps is an idea whose 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, a fast-track to U.S. citizenship, career skills, resume-building, the chance to make a difference, and college scholarship opportunities or student loan forgiveness.
2. WHY WOULD DREAMERS RISK GOING BACK TO 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. 15% of Americans who turn 18 each year are willing to serve in the military. Only 0.2% of the 2.5 million Dreamers would need to be willing to serve in the Dreamer Corps to achieve the goal of deploying 5,000 Dreamer Corps recruits to Central America at a time.
Recruits could serve elsewhere than the country where they were born, instead serving in one of the other three host countries, or in the U.S.
Because Dreamers’ ties to their birth countries go back for generations. They may have left when young, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still feel affinity for their birthplaces. Many Dreamers still have family members in their birth countries, who they haven't seen for years or decades. Where we come from is a part of who we are, and improving the lives of the people we left behind is part of our common humanity.
3. WHY NOT JUST KEEP TRYING TO PASS THE DREAM ACT THE WAY ITS WRITTEN?
Because such attempts have failed for nearly twenty years. How long must Dreamers keep waiting? With political polarization greater than almost any time in our history, and more undocumented immigrants being intercepted at the border in 2021 than ever before, there is no reason to believe the twenty-year impasse will change without taking a new approach.
What's more, passing a Dream Act based on creating the Dreamer Corps will not just help the 2.5 million+ Dreamers. It will help change the whole narrative about immigrants in general, by catapulting Dreamers into highly-visible leadership roles in America, opening the door to broader wholesale immigration reform.