By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

You would figure that anything that had the endorsement of Newt Gingrich and Harry Reid, the blessings of Bush-appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama, that was co-authored by conservative Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, would be a no-brainer to pass.

Particularly when the legislation is the darling of a party that’s about to lose its majority status.

But these days Congress is redefining no-brainer.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act makes sense on so many levels.

It rewards hard work and academic success by offering a path to citizenship for minors who came to this country and succeeded academically. It will add skilled workers to our labor pool. And it rewards people who have stepped forward to protect our country by offering that citizenship pathway to those who have served in the military.

Georgetown President Jack DeGioia wrote that, “At Georgetown, students who meet the DREAM Act criteria are campus leaders and role models for their generation. They are pursuing challenging majors, are actively engaged in campus organization, and regularly participate in community service.

“As these students work toward completing their degrees, their drive to give back to this country — using the knowledge gained through an American education — is unparalleled.”

What’s not to like?

Let the Center for Immigrant Studies, a group that’s pushing for tighter immigration, count the ways.

They estimate that the DREAM Act would cost the state of Florida $472 million more per year. That it won’t give us sufficient economic payback. And that it will take coveted college spots from native-born students.

The question that I always ask hard-line immigration folks is, “So, which do you think is better for our state and country? To educate 69,000 bright and motivated young people, or let them stagnate and become part of an invisible underclass?

Which is really the better path for the good old U.S. of A.?

Count me as someone who would rather make a $472 million investment in success than end up spending $472 million for jails and law enforcement and care for the uninsured.

As for the nonsense about children of illegal immigrants crowding out native-born Americans, I say, as the parent of a youngster who’s about to apply for college: If a kid who has come from another country to live here in poverty and in the cultural shadows is able to beat out my kid academically, so be it.

Or even better, let’s build more colleges. Hire more professors. If it’s important enough to society to provide advanced education to as many people as possible, let’s do it.

But it sure doesn’t make sense to deny qualified, motivated students the opportunity because native-borns can’t compete against them. That’s just … un-American.

No less a conservative thinker than Newt Gingrich has reached a similar conclusion, calling the DREAM Act “useful.”

This is one of those instances where so many people agree something needs to be done, but no one has The Solution.

Do you?

Speak up if you’ve got any ideas about what needs to be done.