Ending the nightmare that is the DREAM Act

Kathryn Gautreaux
September 24, 2007
September 26
September 26, 2007

This summer, I joined a small group of senators in leading the opposition that derailed the bad Kennedy amnesty bill.

During that debate, many of my colleagues who supported the mass amnesty legislation kept trying to call the amnesty provision something else to downplay the fact that they wanted to grant citizenship to millions of illegal aliens currently living in our country.

They called it “earned citizenship,” a “pathway to citizenship” and multiple other public relations-tested phrases, but they couldn’t fool the American people who saw it for what it really was – amnesty. Now, they are at it again and this time they are covering the amnesty provision by calling it a “dream” – a dream to provide taxpayer funded college education for illegal aliens.

The DREAM Act, which stands for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, would create a path to citizenship for people brought illegally to the United States by their parents as children or before they were the age of 16.

This provision would create an avenue to apply for retroactive amnesty. It merely requires an illegal alien to demonstrate that he entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16.

But how can an individual with no paper trail or records demonstrate this? They can’t. And so the DREAM Act appears to be nothing more than a cover provision for mass amnesty.

In addition, this bill would grant illegal aliens who meet certain requirements the eligibility to apply for a temporary – six year – conditional residence permit, which would allow them to live legally in the United States. The only condition is that they meet one of a few educational requirements, such as receiving a degree from a two-year community college, completing at least two years toward a four-year degree or serving at least two years in the uniformed services.

The DREAM Act would also grant Legal Residence Status immediately to eligible applicants – allowing illegal aliens to become legal residents of the state they filed in and therefore becoming eligible for in-state college tuition benefits.

These benefits include access to federal student loans and federal work-study programs. Currently, legal U.S. citizens in one state are not eligible for another state’s resident college tuition benefits – which at the minimum are a cheaper tuition cost for colleges and universities.

These illegal immigrants are already receiving millions in federal taxpayer dollars in Social Security, health care and other welfare programs, but now the DREAM Act wants American taxpayers to pay for their college tuition as well.

Recognizing these glaring loopholes in the legislation, I offered an amendment to modify the DREAM Act to address some these concerns. My amendment would require what Congress mandated in 1996 – that the entry-exit system, known today as U.S. VISIT, be fully operational before the DREAM Act can go in effect as law.

This program was authorized more than 10 years ago, but it’s still not up and running.

The U.S. VISIT system would track aliens entering our country, develop records to document when they entered the country and help enforce the law on illegal immigrants that have overstayed their visas or violated other immigration laws. This system would prevent the mass amnesty of illegal aliens that the DREAM Act would allow.

The loopholes in this bill are just as bad as the Kennedy amnesty bill that we defeated earlier this year. I will not stand by and allow amnesty bills to get through the U.S. Senate without a fight. We can only address the problem of illegal immigration after we secure our borders and strengthen our enforcement.

Many of the provisions I fought for during the immigration debate on the Kennedy amnesty bill were included in the emergency border security funding that passed the U.S. Senate in July. This is a good first step, but much more work needs to be done.