Letter from the Editor

Monday, January 24, 2005

Iowa Dream Act

Frankly, at first blush, the proposed Iowa Dream Act didn't strike me as a good idea. It proposes that undocumented immigrant youth be allowed to attend the state university's at the same rate as state residents, instead of the current international student rate. It doesn't seem fair to all the Iowa families that strain to educate their kids without expecting any breaks. It seems to encourage illegal immigration.

The more I think about it, though, the more the Dream Act makes sense.

The majority of the teens in question are Hispanic, brought to the country as small children by their parents. Denying them is making them suffer for the actions of the parent.

At about $25,000 for international student tuition and costs at Iowa or ISU, few young Hispanics are going to be able to afford to be educated. That leaves them with little opportunity, little reason not to drop out of high school and in some cases high odds to be a future drain on the economy.

This act could have a big impact in Storm Lake, where "minority" students are nearly a majority. You can bet that more than a few of those are of undocumented status.

The Governor's state Leadership Agenda pledges a goal that 90% of Iowa students will get two years or more of higher education. That is impossible without an action like this.

The Dream Act would help Iowa nurture future contributors and leaders, retain more bright young people and give us a chance to reduce population losses. However - Dream Act stipulations must remain in place - a student should be required to be a graduate of an Iowa district, must have at least three year's residency in the state, and must agree to work toward American citizenship.

My mind's been changed. How about you? Let's reward hard work and character with opportunity. That's the Iowa way.