Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has issued a statement highlighing 10 things Americans need to know about the newly introduced DREAM Act. On Tuesday, the Senate Immigration Subcommittee held its first ever hearing on the DREAM Act, but few Senators were in attendance because of conflicts with other committee meetings and votes on the Senate floor.
In the release, Sen. Sessions said that the bill “would offer amnesty to over 2 million illegal aliens” and according to the Congressional Budget Office would add “more than $5 billion to the federal deficit”.
Sen. Sessions 10 points include:
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, S.952 includes a requirement that aliens be under the age of 35 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 talk about. The bill’s 35- year-old age cap on “children” applies only to the 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
Proponents of the DREAM Act still have failed to acknowledge previous CBO estimates that its enactment would increase projected deficits by more than $5 billion. But the number is likely to be dramatically higher, as CBO estimates failed to account for a number of major cost factors with the DREAM Act, including increased unemployment of U.S. citizens, public education costs, chain migration, litigation and fraud. Nor did the CBO account for what history has proven: passing amnesty will incentivize even more illegality and lawlessness at the border. In addition, the CBO assumed a large portion of those who receive amnesty will obtain jobs, but there is no surplus of job opportunities. According to a June 2011 Report by the Center for Immigration Studies, the employment situation for U.S.-born workers and citizens who are young and less-educated – those most likely to compete with illegal aliens – is already bleak, with unemployment rates for those who have not completed high school at 34.6 percent. Furthermore, previous scores failed to account for those who cannot get jobs because of this competition and will claim unemployment benefits.
In addition, DHS/USCIS will have to process DREAM Act applications (applications that would require complex, multi-step adjudication) though S.952 accounts for no fees to handle processing. This increased burden would require either additional Congressional appropriations, or for USCIS, a primarily fee-funded agency, to raise fees on other types of immigration benefit applications. This would unfairly spread the costs of administering the DREAM Act legalization program among applicants and petitioners who have abided by U.S. laws and would force taxpayers to pay for amnesty.
Though the DREAM Act does not mention fees, the CBO previously assumed all illegal aliens will pay a $700 fee to submit an application. USCIS, however, recently implemented a formal process whereby fees can be waived for hardship. It is likely that most of those petitioning for status under this bill will fall within a hardship exception and not pay any fees at all. Taxpayers would also be on the hook for federal benefits the DREAM Act seeks to offer illegal aliens, including student loans and grants, and states would be on the hook for in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
3. The DREAM Act Provides a 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 S.952 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 an illegal alien’s removal from the United States. Such delays will increase the number of those 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.
4. Certain Inadmissible Aliens and ALL Deportable Aliens, Including Those From High-Risk Regions, Will Be Eligible For Amnesty Under The DREAM Act
Certain categories of criminal aliens who are inadmissible to the United States will be eligible for 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 United States, 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 authorities—as was the case with the 9/11 hijackers. At the same time, limited federal resources that are better utilized 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 allows all aliens subject to deportation, including criminals and terrorists, to be eligible for amnesty.
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 under the DREAM Act. 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 2.1 Million Illegal Aliens Will Be Eligible For the DREAM Act Amnesty; In Reality, We Have No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Will Apply
The 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. Last year, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that the DREAM Act would make approximately 2.1 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 that will inevitably occur once these illegal aliens are naturalized, and for children who will be eligible years down the road. 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 obtain 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 broke the law in the first place by bringing them to the United States illegally), the education requirement can be waived altogether.
Additionally, the bill provides no mechanism to combat the extensive fraud the will inevitably ensue—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 do not go to college will earn their citizenship through service in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, the bill does not require aliens join the U.S. Armed Forces (the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Cops); instead it requires enlistment in the “uniformed services,” which covers more than simply the Armed Services. This means that aliens need only go to work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Public Health Service for 2 years to get U.S. citizenship. If the alien is unable to complete 2 years in the “uniformed services,” and 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 broke the law in the first place by bringing them to the United States illegally), the military service requirement can be waived altogether. Such claims will likely engender significant litigation and place a huge burden on DHS.
Furthermore, under current law (10 USC § 504), the Secretary of Defense can authorize 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. Moreover, 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 United States without regard to numerical caps. Similarly, lawful permanent residents can immigrate their spouses and children to the United States 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 United States 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 United States, further incentivizing chain migration and potentially illegal entry into the United States (for those who do not 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 9 of S.952 allows illegal aliens amnestied under the bill’s provisions to immediately 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.