The DREAM Act and the Spirit of Capitalism

*note: I came across this piece in my computer, originally written and published May 26th, 2010. I thought it was still entirely relevant, so here it is once more.

I was reading an article detailing the experiences of some undocumented students after receiving their college degree (Undocumented Immigrants Struggle To Find Work After College), when I came across a quote given by FAIR spokesperson Ira Mehlman.

His basic opposition against the DREAM Act is that since employment options are not as abundant as they used to be years ago, current American college graduates should not have to worry about competing for job opportunities with undocumented students.

Besides, he says, the law is the law. Undocumented students broke the law. And since they’re criminals (and federal felons, as many folks claim), they have no rights. Not even the right to follow through with what they’ve been taught and encouraged to do while going through the educational processes of the American school systems. Higher education is NOT for everybody. And if you are one of the lucky ones to end up on the other side of the dark tunnel with a college degree in your hand, no way should you prosper from something that you worked so hard attain.

Ira’s statements tickled me. After all, it wasn’t too long ago when folks were smearing Obama’s campaign as a socialist threat. The health-care reform bill was too far on the socialist side of the political scale to be supported by the American population. The United States is a proud capitalist country! No way should public interests bow and break the foundation of this country’s love for corporate competition. The reason that we have progressed so much as a first-world nation has been a direct result of our stubborn allegiance to capitalism.

We shunned the USSR and the Bolsheviks because they thought otherwise. We overran Vietnam on the Capitalist Stratego political board game to keep those ideas from spreading. To this day, we still refuse to deal with Cuba because of their undermining of our political ways. Thousands of American citizens got red-listed and persecuted in a nation-wide witch hunt during the 1950s, the Golden Era of communist-hating, to keep the idea from taking root in the continental U.S. of A. The C.I.A. executed our beloved Ché because his global perspective was too much of a threat to the American way of life. And I won’t even get into what the American government executed throughout Central America just 30 years ago in order to keep capitalism from collapsing in America’s backyard. Capitalism is the American prayer come true.

As I understand it, in order for capitalism to fully flourish, there must be competition. Without competition, everyone and everything is the same. What you see is what you get. Forget about choice. But with capitalism, corporations can create the illusion of choice for consumers, and by tweaking an idea and marketing it as better, the weaker players in the market get weeded out and the strong deep-pocketed gamers are left standing to monopolize and reap the benefits of someone else’s idea. At least that’s how I understand it.

So then… what’s with this sudden change of heart? Competition is bad for American college graduates? Give me a break. Schools don’t just teach students that competition is good; it becomes a way of life from a very young age. The whole scholastic experience is so that institutions of higher education can then become the playgrounds for the imaginative minds of those who surpassed the expectations of academic competition. Those who proved themselves tough, hard-working, and intelligent will then be rewarded with employment opportunities so that they can move on up the ladder. Competition is the American Dream come true.

Mehlman’s statements made me think two things:

1) Once again, the good ol’ nonsensical American double standard comes to the rescue. Yes, competition is good. And as a result of such a stressful academic culture, there are many undocumented students who surpassed the many expectations and obstacles set before them during their impossible journey upstream. But these hardworking students were unfortunate enough to enter a race with American students, who have home-field advantage. Many American students half-ass their college careers thinking that their birth certificates secure them a place in the American workforce. As a result, the U.S. graduates many undocumented students who should rightfully have some (or many) of the jobs that then go to American nationals who quite possibly didn’t do nearly as well as motivated undocumented students. So much for competition.

2) It’s not a fear of competition as much as it is a fear that current American students live up to the world-wide opinion of American idiocy, and that even in their own country, they’ll prove to be too dense to land a job. This will then inevitably lead to many questions and critiques of our educational system, which is an entirely separate issue.

If the United States is truly capitalistic in nature, I say we let undocumented students compete American students for those post-graduate employment opportunities. Jobs and positions will be filled by rightfully qualified individuals, and we as Americans can then rest assured that our educational system works and our world can continue to spin on its broken axis.

Sometimes, life isn’t fair. If American students should truly have those jobs, they better step it up and deserve them. If they don’t get those jobs, it won’t be because the educational system shortchanged them. They’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.

I think that’s fair.

In solidarity,
Jesús

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