UPDATED CRITICAL IMMIGRATION ALERT
DEMOCRAT LEADERS PLAN VOTE ON FIFTH VERSION OF FLAWED DREAM ACT
PROPOSAL CONTAINS A SAFE HARBOR FOR CRIMINALS, ELIGIBILITY FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS, AND IS SUBJECT TO MASSIVE FRAUD. IT DOES NOT REQUIRE ILLEGAL ALIENS TO GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL, FINISH COLLEGE, OR JOIN THE MILITARY AS A CONDITION OF AMNESTY.
Senator Reid has filed cloture of the House-passed version of the DREAM Act, setting up a vote this Saturday as the lame-duck session continues. Stunningly, it is the fifth version introduced in the Senate in just over 2 months. Not one of the versions has received committee process. In fact, the House bill was introduced just one day prior to passage. Further, Senator Reid filled the tree, and won’t allow any amendments to the bill.
Though the DREAM Act would grant mass amnesty, the lack of hearings and committee process means the public and the Senate have not had time to analyze the proposal. The Congressional Budget Office says that the DREAM Act is expected to add more than $5 billion to the federal deficit—a figure that will grow given that the CBO fails to take into account a multitude of factors, such as the resulting litigation, fraud, and chain migration.
In addition to immediately placing an estimated 1–2 million illegal aliens on a path to citizenship (a number expected to grow since the bill has neither a cap nor a sunset), the DREAM Act will give them access to federal student loans and federal work-study programs. The bill allows illegal aliens to get legal status indefinitely by simply claiming they have a high school diploma or GED, and even opens eligibility to those with multiple criminal convictions.
Once naturalized, aliens granted DREAM Act amnesty will then have the legal right to petition for entry of their family members, including their adult siblings and the parents who illegally brought or sent them to the United States—easily tripling the number of green cards.
Americans reject amnesty as long as the unacceptable lawlessness continues. But this bill simply incentivizes and rewards more illegality. And, if it passes, what principle would lawmakers cite to object to another amnesty, for another group, and another one after that? Its passage will only encourage more people to unlawfully enter our country expecting a DREAM Act of their own.
Ten Things You Need To Know About The DREAM Act (H.R. 6497)
- 1. The DREAM Act Is NOT Limited to Children Proponents of the DREAM Act frequently claim the bill offers relief only to illegal alien “children.” Incredibly, previous versions of the DREAM Act had no age limit at all, so illegal aliens of any age who satisfied the Act’s requirements—not just children—could obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. In response to this criticism, H.R. 6497 includes a requirement that aliens be under the age of 30 on the date of enactment to be eligible for LPR status. Even with this cap, many could be much older before petitioning for status—hardly the “children” the Act’s advocates keep talking about. The bill’s 30 year old age cap on “children” only applies to date of enactment, and the registration window will remain open indefinitely regardless of future age.
- 2. The DREAM Act Will Be Funded On the Backs Of Hard Working, Law-Abiding Americans Even though H.R. 6497 was introduced a day before it passed, the CBO released a score. Proponents of the DREAM Act have failed to acknowledge that CBO estimates the bill would increase projected deficits by more than $5 billion. But the number is likely to be dramatically higher. The CBO has clearly failed to account for a number of major costs factors with the DREAM Act, including increased unemployment of U.S. citizens, public education costs, chain migration, litigation and fraud. Nor does the CBO take it account what history has proven: passing amnesty will incentivize even more illegality and lawlessness at the border. In addition, the CBO assumes a large portion of those who receive amnesty will obtain jobs, but there is no surplus of job opportunities. The score doesn’t count those who can’t get jobs because of this competition and will claim unemployment benefits. Though the House bill adds fees for initial applications and requests for extensions of aliens granted conditional status under the DREAM Act, none of the funds collected go to the agency for implementation of the program. As a result, Congress will still have to appropriate fees to cover the costs for adjudication of DREAM Act applications, or USCIS will have to force lawful applicants to foot the bill for illegal applicants seeking amnesty. Further, USCIS recently formalized a general fee waiver process whereby fees can be waived for a number of reasons. Finally, taxpayers would still be on the hook for all Federal benefits the DREAM Act seeks to offer illegal aliens, including student loans and grants.
- 3. The DREAM Act PROVIDES SAFE HARBOR FOR ANY ALIEN, Including Criminals, From Being Removed or Deported If They Simply Submit An Application Although DREAM Act proponents claim it will benefit only those who meet certain age, presence, and educational requirements, amazingly H.R. 6497 still protects ANY alien who simply submits an application for status no matter how frivolous. The bill forbids the Secretary of Homeland Security from removing “any alien who has a pending application for conditional nonimmigrant status”—regardless of age or criminal record—providing a safe harbor for millions. Though the bill requires a modest “prima facie” showing of eligibility, this is the lowest standard of legal proof and could likely be satisfied by the alien’s signature. This loophole will open the floodgates for applications that could stay pending for many years or be litigated as a delay tactic to prevent the illegal aliens’ removal from the United States. Such delays will increase the number released on bail and will increase the number of absconders. The provision will further erode any chances of ending the rampant illegality and fraud in the existing system, and ensure that the bill becomes a surrender to illegality.
- 4. Certain Inadmissible Aliens, including those from high-risk regions, Will Be Eligible For Amnesty Under The DREAM Act Certain categories of criminal aliens will be eligible for the DREAM Act amnesty, including alien gang members. The DREAM Act allows the following illegal aliens to be eligible for amnesty: alien absconders (aliens who failed to attend their removal proceedings), aliens who have engaged in document fraud, aliens who have falsely claimed U.S. citizenship, and aliens who have been unlawfully present in the US, even after being previously removed. The exemption for fraud is particularly troubling because it creates a potential loophole for unknown terrorists who have defrauded immigration authorizes—as was the case with the 9/11 hijackers. At the same time, limited federal resources that are better utilized on tracking down such fraud will have to be directed towards reviewing potentially fraudulent claims on millions of DREAM applications. Making matters worse, the DREAM Act still allows the Secretary to waive all grounds of inadmissibility for illegal aliens, including criminals and terrorists.
- 5. Certain Criminal Aliens—including drunk drivers—Will Be Eligible For Amnesty Under The DREAM Act, certain categories of criminal aliens can qualify for status. The bill includes a 1 felony/3-misdemeanor rule, similar to the 1986 amnesty rule. As a result, criminal aliens who have less than 3 misdemeanor convictions will remain eligible for legal, permanent status through the DREAM Act. Some misdemeanors can be extremely serious, such as driving under the influence, certain drug offenses, gang activity, some charges of sexual abuse of a minor, assault and battery, and even prostitution.
- 6. Conservative Estimates Suggest That At Least 1.3 Million Illegal Aliens Will Be Eligible For the DREAM Act Amnesty. In Reality, We Have No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Will Apply Section 6(i) of the House-passed DREAM Act waives all numerical limitations on green cards, and prohibits any numerical limitation on the number of aliens eligible for amnesty under its provisions. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that the DREAM Act will make approximately 1.3 million illegal aliens eligible for amnesty immediately. It is highly likely that the number of illegal aliens receiving amnesty under the DREAM Act will be much higher than estimated due to widespread fraud and our inherent inability to accurately estimate the illegal alien population. Estimates also fail to account for the chain migration which will inevitably occur once these illegal aliens are naturalized, and for children who will be eligible years down the road. Section 7 of the bill allows the Secretary to make those who have already met the Act’s requirements to become immediately eligible for LPR status.
- 7. The DREAM Act Does Not Require That An Illegal Alien Finish Any Type of Degree (Vocational, Two-Year, or Bachelor’s Degree) As A Condition of Amnesty DREAM Act supporters would have you believe that the bill is intended to benefit illegal immigrants who have graduated from high school and are on their way to earning college degrees. However, the bill is careful to ensure that illegal alien high school drop-outs will also be put on a pathway to citizenship – they simply have to get a GED and be admitted to “an institution of higher education.” Under the Higher Education Act, an “institution of higher education” includes institutions that provide 2-year programs (community colleges) and any “school that provides not less than a 1-year program of training to prepare students for gainful employment” (a vocational school). To get LPR status, the alien must prove only that they finished 2 years of a bachelor’s degree program, not that they completed any program or earned any degree. If the alien is unable to complete 2 years of college but can demonstrate that their removal would result in hardship to themselves or their U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, child, or parent (the ones who brought them here illegally), the education requirement can be waived altogether. The bill actually allows illegal aliens to get legal status indefinitely without any college or military service. Additionally, the bill provides no mechanism to combat the extensive fraud the will inevitably sue – there is no meaningful way to verify that applicants have met even the bill’s loosest residency and education provisions. The bill is subject to extensive abuse and will worsen an already chaotic immigration situation.
- 8. The DREAM Act Does Not Require That an Illegal Alien Complete Military Service As A Condition For Amnesty, and There Is already A Legal Process In Place For Illegal Aliens to Obtain U.S. Citizenship Through Military Service DREAM Act supporters would have you believe that illegal aliens who don’t go to college will earn their citizenship through service in the U.S. Armed Forces. If the alien is unable to complete 2 years in the Armed Forces, and can demonstrate that their removal would result in hardship to themselves or their U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, child, or parent, the military service requirement can be waived altogether. Such claims will likely engender much litigation and place a huge burden on DHS. Furthermore, under current law (10 USC § 504), the Secretary of Defense can authorize (and presently does) the enlistment of illegal aliens. Once enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, under 8 USC § 1440, these illegal aliens can become naturalized citizens through expedited processing, often obtaining U.S. citizenship in six months. All branches of the military are currently meeting their recruitment goals.
- 9. Despite Their Current Illegal Status, DREAM Act Aliens Will Be Given All The Rights That Legal Immigrants Receive—Including The Legal Right To Sponsor Their Parents and Extended Family Members For Immigration Under current federal law, U.S. citizens have the right to immigrate their “immediate relatives” to the U.S. without regard to numerical caps. Similarly, lawful permanent residents can immigrate their spouses and children to the U.S. as long as they retain their status. This means illegal aliens who receive amnesty under the DREAM Act will have the right to petition for their family members—including the parents who sent for or brought them to the U.S. illegally in the first place—in unlimited numbers as soon as they become U.S. citizens and are 21 years of age. Additionally, amnestied aliens who become U.S. citizens will be able to petition for their adult siblings living abroad to immigrate to the U.S., further incentivizing chain migration and potentially illegal entry into the United States (for those who don’t want to wait for the petition process overseas). When an adult brother or sister receives a green card, the family (spouse and children) of the adult sibling receive green cards as well.
- 10. Current Illegal Aliens Will Get Federal Student Loans, Federal Work Study Programs, and Other Forms of Federal Financial Aid Section 11 of H.R. 6497 allows illegal aliens amnestied under the bill’s provisions to qualify for federal student assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) in the form of federal student loans, grants, work-study programs, and other education services such as tutoring and counseling. Previous versions of the DREAM Act included a provision repealing the federal law that prohibits states from providing in-state tuition unless it’s similarly offered to citizens and legally present aliens living in other states. Despite the federal ban put in place over 14 years ago, at least 10 states directly violate this law. Enactment of the DREAM Act will only incentivize more states to provide financial assistance to illegal aliens over American students.
 MPI’s October 2006 publication titled “New Estimates of Unauthorized Youth Eligible For Legal Status Under the DREAM Act” (available at http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/Backgrounder1_Dream_Act.pdf)