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A Dose of Reality Turns DREAMs into Nightmares


EDITOR's NOTE: A line-by-line analysis of the DREAM Act (as introduced in the U.S. Senate) reveals no end to the nightmares. (1) The amnesty applies to illegal-alien "kids" up to age 35; (2) aliens merely need to make a "claim" that they are qualified for the amnesty -- they don't have to provide any proof that the claims are true; (3) but the feds have to perform costly, time-consuming investigations to prove the claims are false in order to deny an amnesty to anybody; (4) the parents who broke the law to bring these "kids" here can get U.S. citizenship; (5) DREAM would remove the federal ban on in-state tuition for future illegal aliens.

Proponents of the DREAM Act insist that the purpose of the bill is to ensure that the children of illegal aliens—who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own and shouldn't be penalized for the sins of their parents—have an opportunity to go to college. After all, shouldn’t every child have a chance to better himself by getting a good education?

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act was introduced on March 26, 2009, as S. 729 by Senators Durbin (D-IL.) and Lugar (R-IN) and as H.R. 1751 by Rep. Berman (D-CA). As of April 6, 2009, the Senate bill has 19 cosponsors and the House bill has 20 cosponsors.
What its supporters don't tell you, though, is that the DREAM Act would award amnesty to virtually any illegal alien under the age of 35 who first entered the United States before the age of 16, has been in the country for at least the last five years, and has earned a high school diploma or GED in the United States. While the age limit of 35 seems excessive, at least it sounds like a relatively well-defined population, right? Here's the kicker: Illegal aliens only have to submit a petition in which they claim to meet these requirements. There is not a single provision in the DREAM Act that requires the aliens to provide proof that the claims are true. In fact, once an illegal alien submits this required petition, the only way the alien can be denied amnesty is if DHS proves that the claims are false.

Think what would happen if, say, half a million amnesty applications (an extremely conservative estimate) are dumped on an agency—US Citizenship and Immigration Services—that already has over three million applications pending. How many amnesty applications are likely to be denied when every denial involves additional time to track down proof that the statements on the application are false, versus an approval that takes only the stroke of a pen? Past experience shows that the answer is frighteningly close to none, so the potential for fraud is virtually unlimited.

On top of this, the incentives created by the bill make massive fraud a certainty. For example, once an illegal alien files a petition for amnesty, regardless of whether the alien actually meets the requirements or not, DHS is prohibited from deporting that individual for any reason until the petition is granted or until DHS has found proof that the alien does not qualify and so denies the petition. There are no exceptions to this. So, as long as an illegal alien files an amnesty petition before he flies a plane into the World Trade Center or goes on a killing spree in the local shopping mall, we are stuck with him for as long as it takes an already backlogged agency to consider his application for amnesty.

Rest assured, though, that no illegal alien with a criminal record can qualify for amnesty – unless the criminal record only involves one or two misdemeanor convictions like DUIs or domestic violence, or it only involves violations of immigration laws or crimes committed to achieve an immigration-related goal like document fraud. Terrorists don’t qualify for the DREAM amnesty either—at least not those we have listed on a watch list and who use their real names to apply for amnesty.

The fact that there is no deadline by which all DREAM-amnesty applications must be filed means there is plenty of time for illegal aliens (those already here and those planning to come) who don’t actually qualify to fabricate or purchase their eligibility. No doubt the Mexican drug cartels and other criminal enterprises already are developing the “DREAM Set”—a prepackaged set of documents, utility bills, high school diplomas, and so on to ensure that every illegal alien gets a slice of the American DREAM, for the right price.

Of course, the bill specifically requires DHS to move all amnesty petitions to the front of the line—ahead of the millions of people who have been waiting for years to come to the United States legally—so it shouldn't take more than six months or so to decide any one application--unless amnesty is denied, in which case the illegal alien could extend the process for several years by appealing the denial. And what will happen in the rare instance when an illegal alien is denied amnesty? The illegal alien “shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior” to applying for amnesty. Well, of course! We will simply ignore the fact that the alien had to admit to being in the country illegally on his amnesty petition and pretend we do not have his address, occupation, or any other information about him! We can’t let pesky details like the fact that, in order to deny amnesty, DHS has to prove that the alien committed fraud on his petition, is not “of good moral character,” has been convicted of a deportable offense, or is a terrorist, human smuggler, or international child abductor, to get in the way.

The DREAM Act sets no numerical limits on how many illegal aliens may be granted amnesty, and they cannot be counted against the current annual green card limits. Furthermore, once granted permanent resident status, beneficiaries of the DREAM amnesty can become U.S. citizens and sponsor their relatives—the parents who brought them here illegally, any siblings left in the home country, and then aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on—for legal immigration to the United States under current chain migration laws. So all in all, this little bill to ensure that children can get a good education would quickly begin to rival the "one-time-only" amnesty of 1986, under which some three million illegal aliens and their spouses and children were given green cards, along with countless extended relatives.

Finally, just in case illegal aliens who come in the future feel left out, the DREAM Act has benefits for them, too (and there WILL be lots of future illegal aliens since amnesties always result in more illegal immigration and this bill does absolutely nothing to deter it). The DREAM Act would retroactively repeal the federal law that prohibits state colleges and universities from giving illegal aliens in-state tuition rates. The repeal would have two results: First, it would mean that each state would be free to decide whether to give in-state tuition slots to illegal aliens instead of to U.S. citizens and legal residents (after all, there is a set number of in-state tuition slots, so giving one to an illegal alien means one less for a citizen or legal resident). Second, it would nullify the various lawsuits that have been filed challenging those states that already have violated federal law by giving illegal aliens in-state tuition, so those states would get away with breaking the law with impunity. Now, there's a lesson we all want our children to learn, right?

For NumbersUSA's full analysis of the DREAM Act, see our Fact Sheet.

You can also visit the Proposed Bills page and look under Amnesty for updates on the DREAM Act.

ROSEMARY JENKS is the Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA

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