Former AG Alberto Gonzales discusses DREAM Act

December 3, 2010 8:20:43 PM PST
It has become a controversial proposal in Congress that potentially affects every school age child in the country.

It's called the DREAM Act; DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, and its basic idea is to provide schooling and legal residency to undocumented children in exchange for public service.

A lot of high profile power brokers have opinions on it, and that includes former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was in Houston Friday talking to students about the importance of education.

Gonzales knows what an education can do. The son of a father with a second-grade education and a mother who didn't finish middle school, he rose to attorney general of the United States.

He now shares that story on behalf of Texas Tech University. And in a press conference Friday at Lamar High School, we asked him what he thinks of the DREAM Act.

"It's under constant renovation and alteration, and I don't know what it is ultimately going to look like," Gonzales said.

He does admit to a belief, though, that every child is owed a chance at a good education.

"If people are here, brought here by their parents, I think we have, as a nation, we should educate them," Gonzales said.

Opponents of the act suggest that educating illegal immigrants would be too costly and lessen opportunities for citizens.

Those who support it say the cost benefit of having a more educated workforce, along with mandatory public service of some kind, including the military, is too big to ignore.

Gonzales, though, says the DREAM Act should not come before immigration reform, something he thinks should be a top priority in Washington.

"A good immigration policy is going to be one that's consistent with our economic needs, by providing more visas for skilled and unskilled workers, for example," he said. "I also think comprehensive immigration reform should be consistent with our national security needs."

After the press conference the former attorney general met with Eyewitness News and clarified his position. He wanted to be sure we didn't report he supports the DREAM Act, despite his thoughts on education and immigration reform.

"I think a good first step is to have border security, quite honestly," Gonzales said, "but I don't think that in this, the makeup of the Congress being closely divided, you can simply pass border security."

The DREAM Act has failed to pass multiple votes in Congress. But just two weeks ago, President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to try again.


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