What a Romney Veto of the DREAM Act Would Mean for Latinos

When Mitt Romney said he’d veto the DREAM Act if he were President and Congress approved the measure—and then reiterated his stance this week—he was essentially reversing his support of comprehensive immigration reform bills of 2005 and 2007.

Responding to a question at an Iowa pre-caucus event, Mitt took off his gloves, saying: "The question is, if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it, and the answer is yes," Romney said, adding that he would only support a path to citizenship for those who serve in the military. "For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits, I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of laws."

But what Romney didn’t go into is what would happen if he indeed squashed the DREAM Act, which would grant those under age 16 now in the U.S. an opportunity to earn citizenship by attending college for two years and completing military service. According to immigration activists, the answer is clear: the waste of human capital (estimates about the number of undocumented kids affected start at 800,000) and massive loss of economic opportunity. In an open letter to Romney signed by several DREAM Activist groups, quoted a UCLA North American Integration and Development Center study that the earnings of those who would benefit from the DREAM Act is between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion. “If you are serious about fixing the economy,” the letter says, “the DREAM Act is the solution, not the problem.”

In fact, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank Statistical analysis of state-level data shows that “immigrants expand the economy's productive capacity by stimulating investment and promoting specialization. This produces efficiency gains and boosts income per worker.”