The DREAM Act has been introduced in Congress every year for nine years, and it hasn’t passed for good reasons. It’s a deception. A Trojan horse. Although its stated premise may have some merit, the bill is so poorly framed that it should be defeated and totally rewritten.
Immigrant advocates make an appealing case. We hear endless stories of “deserving students” suffering from their parents crimes. Even the Bangor Daily News jumped on board. Despite all the pressing tax and funding measures before Congress, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have made passage of the DREAM Act a top priority during the lame-duck session. Why? Politics. Long term, the DREAM Act makes good sense for the Democrats, attracting millions of new illegal immigrants, grateful for citizenship.
So what makes this bill a Trojan horse? The bill offers immediate legal status to anyone under 30 who claims he arrived before age 16, graduated from high school, lived here over five years, and expresses the intention of enrolling in college or the military. No proof is necessary. There are no numerical limits nor end dates for the application. By just completing an application, applicants instantly acquire work permits to compete against 16 million unemployed Americans.
And, the Department of Homeland Security is explicitly prohibited from deporting any illegal immigrant who has filed a DREAM application. The only way fraudulent applicants lose their work permit is if the government brings individualized cases to prove they lied on their application. This is important, because previous am-nesties have attracted massive fraud.
Consider the Special Agricultural Workers amnesty of l986. That bill focused on agricultural workers who were felt to deserve amnesty, but they didn’t have good documentation to prove eligibility. Like the DREAM Act, the documentation requirements were set very low. It was estimated that 350,000 would be eligible, but over l.3 million applied.
An overwhelmed Immigration and Naturalization Service essentially rubberstamped everyone. Experts estimate that up to half the green cards granted were fraudulent. Under this amnesty, Mahmud Abouhalima, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, gained legal residence as a “special agricultural worker.” Roberto Suro, a former New York Times reporter, who later headed the Pew Hispanic Center, described the amnesty as “one of the most extensive immigration frauds ever perpetrated against the U.S. government.”
But the DREAM act is much worse. All applicants are processed on an “expedited basis,” moving to the front of the line ahead of millions who are waiting to enter legally. And those who don’t fulfill their educational or military requirements within 10 years may employ the “hardship clause” to extend their legal residence in-definitely.
Each amnestied person will eventually be able to sponsor their parents for legal immigration, the people who were not innocent children when they broke our laws. In addition, states will bear an estimated $6.2 billion a year in costs to educate the additional college enrollment. Another unfunded federal mandate. Finally, this bill will only encourage more families to risk their children’s lives to come here illegally, counting on an eventual Dream Act II
Enforcing our laws impartially is just and fair. But sometimes we temper justice with compassion. The plight of some illegal immigrant youth who came here at very young ages and never learned the language of their native land may warrant a limited amnesty. If the DREAM Act focused only on these youth, then it would have passed long ago. But the authors behind the DREAM Act had much bigger aspirations. Open border advocates are cynically using the plight of a few deserving young people to pass another massive amnesty for many who were not innocent.
The DREAM Act is their dream too: more cheap labor, more consumers, and a dysfunctional immigration system.
Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have been targeted by the White House and many immigrant advocates from outside Maine to support the DREAM Act. Their votes will be crucial . They need to hear from us: The DREAM Act should be defeated and rewritten.
Jonette Christian of Holden is a member of Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.