Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Less than three months after the amnesty bill was defeated, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois wants to revive one of its worst provisions: an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would constitute a massive financial windfall for millions of illegal aliens. The bill would essentially guarantee illegals a college education at much lower in-state rates.

Titled the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, it was included in the immigration “compromise” that died in the Senate in June. It benefits illegals who entered this country before age 16. The bill should be shouted down.

“The illegal alien who applies for this amnesty is immediately rewarded with ‘conditional’ lawful permanent resident (green card) status, which can be converted to a non-conditional green card in short order,” Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, noted in a Heritage Foundation paper. “The alien can then use his newly acquired status to seek green cards for his parents who brought him in illegally in the first place. In this way, it is a backdoor amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who brought their children to the United States.”

The DREAM Act would repeal a 1996 law — the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act — which included a provision barring any state from offering discounted tuition to illegals unless it provided the same tuition discount to all U.S. citizens. But 10 states (California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington) currently grant reduced in-state tuition to illegals in violation of federal law. It would be difficult to exaggerate all of the perverse incentives in the DREAM Act, which provide illegals with better treatment than citizens and noncitizens who obey the law. Some states actually make breaking federal law a condition for receiving in-state tuition rates by denying in-state tuition to legal aliens with valid student visas. The laws also show contempt for law-abiding American citizens. For example, Mr. Kobach notes, “a student from Missouri who attends Kansas University who has already played by the rules and obeyed the law is charged three times the tuition charged to an alien whose very presence in the country is a violation of federal criminal law.”

But as things stand right now, Mr. Durbin’s DREAM Act measure has the support of a majority of senators, and foes of the bill, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, will likely seek to filibuster Mr. Durbin’s proposal when he tries to attach it to the defense bill. But according to Numbers USA, which closely monitors immigration-related legislation, as of yesterday afternoon, only 17 senators were confirmed to be opposed to the DREAM measure; the senators who had yet to take a position include Republicans Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Tom Coburn and John Ensign.

The Bush administration has not taken an official position, but Defense Department officials are quietly urging members to support the bill. Meanwhile, Homeland Security officials, alarmed by the prospect of massive fraud resulting from Mr. Durbin’s proposal, have been opposing it. This is a clear cut issue: The DREAM Act is a nightmare.

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