The House passed the Dream Act on Wednesday evening on mainly partisan lines 216 to 198. House members on both sides of the aisle crossed over to vote for or against this immigration bill with 8 Republicans supporting the legislation and 38 Democrats opposing it. The DREAM Act now goes to the Senate, where the odds on its passage remain low. Democrats have yet to whip at least sixty votes to overcome a filibuster.
The DREAM Act allows young individuals brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents to gain a legal status. In order to qualify, though, those applying for a legal status must complete two years of college or military service.
Congressman Steve King, Iowa Republican, wrote in a recent column at Fox News:
Further, the deficit spending federal government will face huge spending increases under the DREAM Act. When amnesty proponents point to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis to claim that the DREAM Act has a short-term positive effect on budget deficits, they do so in an attempt to distract American taxpayers from the long-term negative effects on the budget that are much more pronounced and severe. CBO found that deficit spending on welfare programs would increase by at least $5 billion, and possibly much more, after 2020 as a result of granting DREAM Act amnesty.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, took umbrage with critics of the bill, who say the Congressional Budget Office reported that the legislation would add $5 billion to the Federal Deficit after 2020. Mr. Gutierrez defended the legislation telling me:
“Those Republicans must be forging some CBO reports. The CBO report says that it’s $2.2 billion during the first ten years to reducing the deficit. You should go back to them and tell them they should be ashamed of themselves for giving so many misleading facts,” he said. The Illinois Democrat pointed out that the Obama administration “deported more people than anyone else.”
While the CBO did indeed report the following:
S. 3992 would affect federal revenues in a number of ways. The increase in authorized workers would affect individual and corporate income taxes, as well as social insurance taxes. On balance, those changes would increase revenues by $2.3 billion over 10 years, according to estimates provided by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).
The CBO also reported:
Although the legislation would not have a large impact on deficits over the 2011-2020 period, the eventual conversion of some of the conditional nonimmigrants to legal permanent resident (LPR) status after 2020 would lead to significant increases in spending for the federal health insurance exchanges, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Pursuant to section 311 of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2009 (S. Con. Res. 70), CBO estimates that the bill would increase projected deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one of the four consecutive 10-year periods starting in 2021.
The White House often talks about how many more deportations of illegal immigrants happened under the Obama administration watch as opposed to the previous administration, but a recent Washington Post article, however, includes criticism of the number of deportations the White House has been hyping all year:
For much of this year, the Obama administration touted its tougher-than-ever approach to immigration enforcement, culminating in a record number of deportations.
But in reaching 392,862 deportations, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement included more than 19,000 immigrants who had exited the previous fiscal year, according to agency statistics. ICE also ran a Mexican repatriation program five weeks longer than ever before, allowing the agency to count at least 6,500 exits that, without the program, would normally have been tallied by the US Border Patrol.
When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency might fall short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal. Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show. Instead, officials told immigration officers to encourage eligible foreign nationals to accept a quick pass to their countries without a negative mark on their immigration record, ICE employees said.
The option, known as voluntary return, may have allowed hundreds of immigrants — who typically would have gone before an immigration judge to contest deportation for offenses such as drunken driving, domestic violence, and misdemeanor assault — to leave the country. A voluntary return doesn’t bar a foreigner from applying for legal residence or traveling to the United States in the future. Once the agency closed the books for fiscal 2010 and the record was broken, agents say they were told to stop widely offering the voluntary return option and revert to business as usual.
Without these efforts and the more than 25,000 deportations that came with them, the agency would not have topped last year’s record level of 389,834, current and former ICE employees and officials said.
The DREAM Act still must pass the Senate before it arrives on President Barack Obama’s desk. The legislation will need at least 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster from Republicans, and as of Wednesday night, Senate Democrats have not announced a whip count that could move the legislation to an eventual passage.