If someone was brought to the US by their parents when they were under 10 or even under 5 years old, and they have lived here for the past 20 or 30 years. They grew up here, going to school here (living in our communities) and even finishing high school and college here. Many of them even worked and paid taxes and contributed to the economy and were law abiding in every sense. Many of them even have children who are US citizens.

The Dream Act, and then DACA, seem to be the least that can be done for such people. Why is it these faced such opposition?

A related question is how can it be such people are considered "illegal" even though their presence here is no fault of their own? What "crime" did they commit?


We should also note that DACA did not grant any citizenship, or path to citizenship, or even legal status to Dreamers. It simply protected them from deportation, and allowed them to get work permits and drivers licenses. But even this was opposed by Texas and 25 other states which, along with 4 supreme court justices have now basically destroyed it.

So my question is why is the opposition so strong when the Dreamers really are American in that this is the only land and culture they have ever known and they have nowhere else to go? Many of them don't even speak the language of their parents' country.

  • 6
    "Fair" or "unfair" are opinion based terms and as such, there is no "correct" answer (some people opinion of it being fair would count as much as some other people opinion of it being unfair). You should redact your post to avoid opinion based questions.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 21:57
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    And of course, in the case of children entering illegally the country with their parents, the illegallity would have been committed by their parents.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 21:58
  • So is the US a country which punishes children for the crimes of their parents?
    – AbuMariam
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 22:05
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    This question is written in a very biased way - especially with your comment calling people who disagree racist. You should probably reword it to be more objective.
    – Kevin W.
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 22:16
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    @AbuMariam - among other biased points, the assertion that something needs to be done "for such people" in the first place. Never mind "the least", implying more needs to be done - it's a classic negotiating tactic but it shows bias. This way you steak the possible outcomes to a very narrow filed of possibilities (amnesty under DREAM OR BETTER).
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 23:33

3 Answers 3


There are many, interlocking/interleaving reasons. Some are:

  1. Rewarding people who committed a crime introduces a moral hazard.

    For every person who gets citizenship for their children under DREAM act, there are (literally) tens of thousands, if not millions, out there, who - seeing the end result - will want to do the same for THEIR descendants.

    Yes, in a narrow technical sense, the children didn't commit the crime. But, the child getting a citizenship is a reward to the parents just as much as to the child.

  2. Rewarding people who committed a crime destroys the country's fabric in general.

    People see that some people commit a crime and instead of punishment, get rewarded. And those who are more sociopathic on average will take that as a nudge that crime is not such a bad idea.

    Rule of law is one of the main things distinguishing civilization from barbarism. Throw that out, and you erode the civilization significantly.

  3. Speaking of "fairness" - amnesty is patently unfair to many other people - both the legal immigrants; as well as those who chose not to break the US law and thus didn't illegally immigrate.

  4. As with many other marginal measures on polarizing political divide topics, it's seen as problematic by one side to allow another side ANY victory, no matter how small or sensible. This has several reasons:

    • It moves the Overton window

    • It up-moralizes the opposition side and demoralizes your side

    • It gives the opposite side momentum, in general, in all facets of political life (fundraising, morale, participation, enthusiasm, perception).

    • There is a long and sordid history of breaking promises on compromises, especially on the side that is pro-amnesty/pro-illegals. This is true both in general political life on various topics, and even on the immigration topic (the last large amnesty was done by Reagan, under the promised compromise to fix border security. The latter not just didn't happen, but got worse).

  5. Some measures are way too broad as far as how many people are affected.

    E.g. DACA's Wikipedia page says "At the program's start, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people might be eligible". That's just at the start.

  6. Some measures (DACA extension) raise constitutional/separation of powers concern.

    Mostly over executive branch's actions that "should" be done by legislative.

  7. Tactical political calculations.

    For a host of reasons, most people who would become citizens under the amnesty are largely likely to vote "Democrat" (I don't have the poll ready to prove it, but it has almost nothing to do with the parties' respective stances on immigration, by the way).

    As such, it's self-defeating for many Republicans to support any amnesty, since it decreases their political power, even if they aren't opposed to amnesty for reasons listed above.

  8. For the sake of completeness, there are accusations that some do it out of racism. Given the weight of accusation, the onus is on the Dream act proponents to prove that - for example by showing that the opposition to the act disappears if it's restricted to non-latino (or also non-asian) illegals.

  • I really don't agree with your first two points, it still seems that it is "punishing" the children in an effort not to "reward" the parents. I don't understand your 4th point and your 5th seems irrelevant, politicians should do what is best for the people, not what is best for their party. But I do agree with your 3rd point.
    – AbuMariam
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:29
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    @AbuMariam - whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant (to my answer :). You asked why there's opposition, I explained what people who oppose think. You're free to think that they are wrong, but you can't dismiss the fact that they think that way if you're asking for reasons they oppose.
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:30
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    @AbuMariam - 4th point is important in political realm. If you don't understand specific items, ask what they mean separately. 5th point is relevant because in reality (not your ideal world, or my for that matter) politicians tend to do what's best for their re-election or their ideas. The time of avoiding "factions" passed around 200+ years ago, in US politics.
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:32
  • Understood @user4012, could you also comment on my update on why there was opposition specially to DACA when it doesn't really grant amnesty or citizenship. Was this opposition more tied to an overstepping of the executive branches power than the Dreamers per se?
    – AbuMariam
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:46
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    Somewhat unrelatedly: to anyone who claims Google doesn't deliberately skew its results in biased partisan way: searching for DACA brings up several pages worth of PRO-DACA materials, no hits for the opposite side of the argument, for me. I seriously doubt that a minor pro-illegal organization has better pagerank than, say, Speaker of the House page.
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:54

how can it be such people are considered "illegal" even though their presence here is no fault of their own? What "crime" did they commit?

They're "illegal" in the sense that they don't (prior to any amnesty being granted) have any lawful right to reside in the USA, but they are residing in the USA. "Legal" and "not legal" aren't matters of "fault", they're matters of legal definition. To slightly misapply criminal terminology, there is no mens rea for "not having legal status to reside in the US", it's a strict-liability thing.

Anyway, it's not the case that everything illegal is "criminal". Especially in US terminology, where "criminal" is often reserved to mean "felonious", therefore excluding "misdemeanour" crimes.

I'm not a lawyer, I'm not even a US resident myself, but for example one relevant law might be 8 U.S. Code § 1227 (a) (1) (A) "Any alien who at the time of entry or adjustment of status was within one or more of the classes of aliens inadmissible by the law existing at such time is deportable". This alone doesn't assert that they've committed a crime. That whole section of USC is about people who have no legal grounds to remain in the USA, since they legally can be deported. These people who never had residency or who had a time-limited residency which has expired, are often informally referred to as "illegals" regardless of whether they've committed any criminal offence that can be prosecuted.

In addition, they may actively have committed crimes once they reached the age of criminal responsibility, and/or once they reached the age of adulthood, and continued to reside in the USA without having legal status to do so. AFAIK it's not an offence merely to reside in the USA without status, so many or most "illegals" are not criminals in that sense, but a diligent prosecutor might be able to establish in particular cases that someone has "harbored" other illegal aliens or whatever. There could, I suppose, be offences related to employment or tax: it's certainly possible for an undocumented immigrant to pay tax, and many do, but many don't. So it would not be correct to assume than an "illegal" necessarily is a criminal.

So far as the law is concerned, deporting a person who has no legal status to reside is not punishment, at least no more than evicting someone from private land where they have no right to live would be "punishment". Deportation is not considered a criminal matter. So, those who oppose DACA do not agree that, when someone does not have right to reside in the USA, "the least that can be done" is to let them stay in the country. They think the least that can be done is to deport them or ignore them, and any more is a kindness that they choose not to extend.

Of course you are quite correct that many Dreamers have no practical ability to live productively anywhere else. But those who want them deported, or at least who believe that the state should reserve the right to deport them, do not necessarily feel that compassion towards non-US citizens is their highest moral imperative or political priority. Some proportion of them might feel that a person with no right to reside in the USA, is morally obliged to leave the USA at the first opportunity, regardless of their prospects in their country of nationality. However, that's not the legal situation.


Tactical politics. People are currently under a fear agenda from politicians and educated to be extremely nationalist. Even if the DACA does not give legal status and provides little rights to illegal aliens, attacking a group that the rest of the people view as a "problem" will earn their support. Being followed in a idol like status enables them to promote their own agendas with little scrutiny of the people they govern, as they will believe it is in their best interest when they are probably not.

This is not limited to the USA, other countries are facing the same phenomena like Mexico, European countries and japan.

The 2017 Human Rights Watch World Report by Executive Director Kenneth Roth https://youtube.com/watch?v=AEreEj_qrWE supports this fact.

Examples of this:

Manual Lopez Obrador is a nationalist and demagogue that is currently leading the polls for the next mexican president after loosing 3 times in a row. Often appealing to an antiimperialist stance.

In Europe Hungary, Denmark, Austria elections are being swept by right wing parties, also under the terrorist threat fears and antimigration views of the people of the EU. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-most-far-right-countries-in-europe-mapped-a7043816.html

Trump is an extreme right wing politician and demagogue, a clear example of this is his trade policies triggering a trade war with China that would greatly hurt both economies.

Shintaro Ishihara was also a right wing politician and he was major of Tokyo that was calling for japan to re arm themselves.

Note: Thanks to indigochild and blip in pointing out my shortcomings in the discussion of this topic.

  • As written, this question is a poor fit for this site. You should consider backing-up this answer with facts or expert analysis. Currently, it sounds more like an opinion than a statement of fact. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 19:45
  • All of those facts should be included as support in the answer, not as comments. Comments will eventually be deleted. One common approach is to link to the sources underlying your claims. As a new user, I think you are limited to three links. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 22:33
  • What @indigochild said. This answer would be greatly improved by putting your citations into the answer itself.
    – user1530
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 23:46

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