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DREAMing of Amnesty

Posted By Hans von Spakovsky On December 7, 2010 @ 6:00 pm In Legal | Comments Disabled

The latest attempt to give millions of illegal aliens amnesty may get a vote in the Senate as early as Wednesday.  FOX News is reporting that there have already been three calls this week by administration officials on behalf of President Obama advocating the DREAM Act being pushed by Senators Reid and Durbin.

The “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act” is being painted as a way of providing citizenship to children.  But DREAM should really stand for “Deviously Replacing Enforcement with AMnesty” since it will basically extend an amnesty to an estimated 2.1 million illegal aliens who are as old as 35 or 30, depending on which version of DREAM you are looking at.  But because aliens granted citizenship under the DREAM Act could then sponsor their spouses, children, siblings, and parents, chain migration could result in triple that number of illegal aliens ultimately receiving amnesty and becoming citizens.

There are at least four different versions of DREAM in the Senate, the latest introduced by Sen. Durbin as S. 3992.  As Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has said, these bills are all filled with so many loopholes that they would send illegal immigrants the message that the U.S. has “given up on enforcement of our immigration laws.”

Supporters paint this law as only helping those who complete college or military service, but this claim is false.  You only have to show that you completed two years of college to be entitled to amnesty – there is no requirement that you actually obtain a degree.  One version of DREAM only requires enlistment for two years in the “uniformed services,” so working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the Public Health Service would qualify you for amnesty.  The latest version of DREAM changes “uniformed services” to the “Armed Forces.”

But even those requirements to complete two years of college education or uniformed service can be waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, if the alien can demonstrate “compelling circumstances” and the alien’s removal would cause a hardship to the alien, his spouse, parents or children.  This is such a loose, wide-open standard that it is no standard at all.  Aliens are always going to claim it is a hardship for them and their families if they are removed from the United States, even if the hardship is of their own making when they showed such a disregard for our laws by illegally entering the country, illegally working, and, in many cases, obtaining fraudulent identification and other authorization documents.

Additionally (and what supporters don’t like to mention), is that the Secretary of Defense already has the authority under 10 U.S.C. § 504 (b) to enlist illegal aliens in the military if “such enlistment is vital to the national interest.”  Since supporters of this legislation are claiming that the DREAM Act is so important to maintaining our military enlistment rates in a time of war, obviously the “vital to the national interest” standard of the existing federal statute has already been met. And 8 U.S.C. § 1440 allows such aliens to become naturalized U.S. citizens, with their applications handled at accelerated rates.  Why do we then need another, supposedly superfluous federal law?

One version of the DREAM Act eliminates the federal prohibition on states giving illegal aliens access to in-state college tuition rates.  Thus the law would make it lawful for states to discriminate against citizens who live across state lines in favor of illegal aliens.  That has been deleted from Senator Durbin’s latest version of the Act, although both of the versions give illegal aliens access to federal student loans and work-study programs.

The DREAM Act will attract a flood of applications, even by individuals who do not qualify for amnesty, because the application process stops all removal proceedings.  So there will be a tremendous incentive to file applications and litigate for years to postpone and delay removal.  Even worse, the Act makes it illegal for any information in the application to be used to initiate removal proceedings.  So even illegal aliens who do not meet the law’s standards and do not eventually receive amnesty will still be able to largely immunize themselves against removal proceedings by the Department of Homeland Security.

Law enforcement agencies will be put in the awkward position of having to prove that any information they used to find, detain, and try to remove an illegal alien was already in their files when an application was received or was not derived from the application.  As Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies says, DHS “will have the nearly impossible task of proving a negative.”  This will place enormous barriers in the way of enforcing our immigration laws and removing illegal aliens, which is no doubt one of the intentions of the legislation.

This law will provide amnesty to large numbers of individuals who are in the United States illegally, and allow chain migration of even millions more.  This will have been the second time the United States has provided amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, and prospective illegals will see this as a sign that it will happen again – they just need to get into the country and stay here, making it as cumbersome, expensive, and politically unpalatable as possible to remove them or to enforce our immigration laws.

The DREAM Act will reinforce an attitude of contempt towards our immigration law and requirements, given how we will be rewarding those who came here illegally.  It is the same type of proposal we have seen on the immigration front for years – encourage illegality and reward lawbreakers, while ignoring enforcement and border security.


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