- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Advocates of amnesty for illegal aliens may be about to suffer another political blow. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Sen. Dick Lugar and Sen. Chuck Hagel have been trying to attach an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would enact the so-called Dream Act, which would permit illegals to attend college while paying lower in-state tuition rates.

In its original form, the Dream Act, (initially a provision in the omnibus immigration bill that imploded in the Senate in June) was a legislative monstrosity. It would have repealed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which barred states from granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens unless they provide the same discount to all U.S. citizens. But California, New York, Texas and seven other states decided to violate federal law. Under the Dream Act, that would be no problem: It would retroactively repeal the 1996 law — so we could make believe it never existed. But that is just the beginning.

The Dream Act would also provide illegals with a generous new path to amnesty — provided that they unlawfully entered the country prior to age 16 and have been in the United States for at least five years. How’s that for a nose-thumbing at law-abiding citizens and immigrants.

Beyond that, all an illegal alien needs to qualify for the amnesty is a high-school diploma or a GED earned in the United States. “If he can persuade an institution of higher education in the United States — any community college, technical school or college — to admit him, that will suffice,” law professor Kris Kobach wrote in a recent Heritage Foundation paper. “Any illegal alien who meets these conditions (or can produce fraudulent papers indicating that he meets the conditions) gets immediate legal status in the form of a ‘conditional’ green card good for six years.” In addition, an illegal who applies for the Dream Act amnesty could count his time under conditional green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship, and an illegal would be able to claim “retroactive benefits” to start the citizenship clock running the day the Dream Act is enacted. Taken together, these rules give illegal aliens a faster path to citizenship than lawfully present aliens.

As Americans learn the details of Dream Act, they have once again inundated congressional offices with e-mails and telephone calls protesting it. So, Mr. Durbin is desperately trying to salvage the bill by imposing an age ceiling of 30 on eligibility. He has also promised to remove a provision mandating in-state tuition rates. But one by one, Republicans, including Sens. Jon Kyl and John Cornyn, previously regarded as potential supporters of the Durbin-Lugar-Hagel amendment, are declaring their opposition. The American public is speaking out, and Congress has to listen.

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