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By Cameron Ventura, Immigration Activist

On January 9, 2018, Representative Collins introduced HR. 4435, “South Carolina DREAMers Act of 2018” in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

The two main philosophies at play in modern politics are commonly referred to as “The Left” and “The Right.” The left is made up of the liberal proponents, often associated with the Democratic party. The right consists of those more conservative, often associated with the Republican party. Any piece of legislation can be boiled down to reveal whether the proposal is rooted in the paradigm of the left or the right.

Those on the left advocate for equality and seek to reward effort, rather than results. The right has gained a reputation for requiring each person to accomplish what they can, free of any intervention on behalf of fairness. These contrary views are the basis for much disagreement and for the demise of much legislation.

On January 9, 2018, Representative Collins introduced HR. 4435, the “South Carolina DREAMers Act of 2018.” This bill would allow those who qualify for DACA status and who meet the residency requirements for in-state tuition, to receive in-state tuition and to be eligible for scholarships. In addition, it would allow them to earn certifications and licensing which currently they are barred from accessing.

On first reading, many will see access to these opportunities as a threat to themselves. The logic states that their citizen children will now have to compete against others who aren’t from here. They argue that families who have lived here legally deserve the in-state tuition, scholarships, and licensing without having to compete with the undocumented (or under-documented). This is perfectly in line with the left-wing, liberal mentality that argues for unearned benefits, owed not for merit, but based on an ethereal “morality” principle. They claim that increasing accesses to these social benefits is unfair to their children.

The consistent conservative, right wing, capitalistic approach upon which this country was founded demands an alternative approach. To be consistent would require advocacy for a system in which the most capable and driven receive the opportunity to progress. Handing out scholarships not based on who will most likely benefit society to the greatest extent, but instead based on who we feel like deserves the opportunity, is anti-capitalistic and will consistently produce a mediocre South Carolina as the brightest and best minds travel to other states that will provide the opportunity the best minds deserve.

But They Are Illegal, Right?

Many argue that this whole conversation is pointless because as long as they are illegally present, we shouldn’t even consider this conversation.

The problem with this argument is that DACA recipients currently live in our state with the full knowledge and approval of the law. Today, these individuals have just as much legal status as do their classmates across the state. As long as South Carolina maintains a bureaucratic roadblock to education and licensing, we encourage the exodus of so many who desire to remain and improve our state. Clearly, there are some who will gladly raise their voices in support of a state free of DACA recipients – but any who fight for the best possible future of our state must denounce this short-sighted and illogical path.

As a final point, the concept of “in-state tuition” is based not on the mentality that the parents of such students have paid into the system, so, therefore, the student now deserves a financial “break,” but on the logic that those students who have lived in this state for the required number of years should be encouraged to remain in the state for their higher education – which will,  inevitably (hopefully), lead to higher wages and therefore higher taxes. The reality is that DACA student who meets the in-state tuition residency requirements are in the exact same position as the student whose family has lived here for one hundred years. If the DACA recipient better proves her ability to succeed in higher education and therefore be a greater asset to our state – they have earned the in-state tuition spot, the scholarship, or the license over the student with legal parents. This is how the merit-based United States works.

For the average DACA recipient, our tax dollars have paid for over a decade of their education. Like it or not, this is federal law and unavoidable. The question is whether we now want to encourage those students to leave for greener pastures, or whether we will be wise enough to encourage their greatest potential which will inevitably lead to decades of their “paying back the system” with their taxes.

We must keep in mind that this legislation doesn’t require any money to go to DACA recipients. It only allows them to compete, meaning that state tax dollars will now be spent preparing the best minds available. These students will still have to earn acceptance into the schools, meet the same state residency requirements, and prove that they are the best recipients of these dollars.

I see value in both the thought processes of those on the left and the right. What I can’t advocate for is the disillusionment that allows those who vocally support right-wing conservatism to also think that fighting against this legislation is the conservative thing to do.

Should States Act Before the Federal Government Does?

Though the federal government has greatly extended their reach far beyond the powers provided by the constitution, there is still a strong need for the action of states to be active in governing rather than passively awaiting assistance from the federal government. The first DREAM Act was to be introduced on September 12, 2001. Congress has clearly proven that they are in no rush to fix the mess they have created regarding immigration law. South Carolina now has thousands of people daily waiting on the federal government in order to see what options they have for their life. These people have legal status through DACA – now is the time to send a strong message to Washington that South Carolina believes in rewarding success and encouraging all of our students to be the best they can be.

I encourage you to join me in contacting our Senators and Representatives to let them know that we support justice for those in our community who are guilty only of following their parents. We support freeing these individuals to live their life, to live the American dream, to work as hard as they can and to support this great state with their tax dollars. This problem has a clear and ready solution. Join me in fighting for it.

Memphis immigration Project exists to engage issues of Immigration from a Biblical perspective.

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