Illegal alien amnesty has no place on the Defense Authorization bill

The amendment Reid plans to offer is the DREAM Act, which would grant amnesty and costly education subsidies to millions of illegal aliens under the age of 35.

Using a bill that authorizes funding for our military — at a time when our troops are fighting in the Middle East — as a vehicle to reward illegal aliens is, to say the least, cynical. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, a long-time supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, denounced the move as “an all-time low” and “very offensive.” Moreover, it is entirely debatable whether promising amnesty for illegal aliens is really the issue that is going to motivate voters in a state with 14 percent unemployment and a crippling budget deficit.

What is equally clear is that the DREAM Act, which is being peddled as a limited amnesty for a few deserving “kids” is, in fact, a broad and expensive amnesty that will reward illegal immigration and punish law-abiding middle-class Americans. Aside from the fact that illegal aliens up to the age of 35 – hardly “kids” – would be eligible, millions of additional illegal aliens would eventually benefit as DREAM Act beneficiaries attain citizenship and sponsor relatives. Even illegal aliens who do not qualify for amnesty under the DREAM Act would benefit, as the legislation repeals a 1996 law that effectively bars them from receiving in-state tuition to attend public colleges and universities.

While the DREAM Act requires that beneficiaries either complete two years of college, or enlist in the military, the bill includes a gaping loophole even for these minimal requirements. The Department of Homeland Security would have virtually unlimited discretion to waive these requirements upon a showing of hardship and, based on the record of the current administration, that would likely be exercised broadly.

The DREAM Act is not a new idea. It has been around since 2000 and has consistently failed to pass as free-standing legislation for some very good reasons. As a matter of principle, Americans consistently oppose rewarding people who violate our immigration laws with amnesty. But beyond principle, the DREAM Act imposes enormous cost burdens on American taxpayers and penalizes their own children as they seek admission to public colleges and universities and assistance to cover the ever-increasing costs of higher education.

As virtually every state university system is raising tuition costs, cutting programs and even reducing admissions, the DREAM Act would force law-abiding citizens to compete with illegal aliens for coveted seats at public universities. Even as government grants to help students offset the cost of a college education become more constrained, DREAM Act beneficiaries would be made eligible to compete for the very limited pool of funds.

Another inevitable consequence of the DREAM Act would also be still higher levels of future illegal immigration. Once parents believe that coming to the United States illegally will result in eventual green cards and other benefits for their children, millions more can be expected to enter the U.S. illegally. The children of the next wave of illegal aliens will be no less sympathetic than those the DREAM Act intends to benefit, and pressure will immediately build to provide them with amnesty.

The American people have made it clear that they want immigration enforcement and oppose rewarding people who violate U.S. immigration laws. Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. Ordinary Americans suffer loss of jobs and wages while taxpayers endure burdensome costs. American kids, who are already losing educational opportunities and resources as a result of mass illegal immigration, would suffer further harm if the DREAM Act were to become law.

It is disappointing that the Senate Majority Leader and others who are supposed to represent the interests of the American people are not as passionate and determined to protect American citizens against the harmful effects of illegal immigration as they seem to be in promoting the interests of illegal aliens. Unfortunately, in the cynical political atmosphere that grips Washington, the interests of American students, and even funding for our troops, can be used as leverage to promote narrow political interests.

Dan Stein is the President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

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