Friday, September 14, 2007

The Miami Herald has a summary of the debate about the proposed federal "DREAM Act." Interestingly, it says that Sen. Martinez (R-FL), who used to back the "DREAM Act" (and perhaps still does), does not support it as an amendment to the defense bill:
Pro-Dream Act groups are unlikely to have Martinez's support this time around. Durbin plans to offer it as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill. A spokesman for Martinez said Friday that the senator doesn't support ''adding immigration-related amendments'' to the defense bill.
Sen. Sessions (R-AL) thinks that the "DREAM Act" could affect more than just students and could have further-reaching consequences (e.a.):

Among Sessions' complaints: it would eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students.

The act, he says, would ``allow future illegal aliens to qualify for in-state tuition even when it is not offered to citizens and legal permanent resident students living just across state lines.''

And Sessions argues that the act ''is not just for children and young adults.'' It only requires that the immigrant's illegal entry occur before they were 16 years old and says nothing about their current age.

Kris Kobach casts a skeptical eye at the "DREAM Act" and points out some ways in which it could offer a relatively broad sweep of legalization (e.a.):

  • There is no upper age limit. Any illegal alien can walk into a U.S. Customs and Immigration Ser­vices office and declare that he is eligible. For example, a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15. There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The DREAM Act's Section 4(a) merely requires him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible—which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect. Thus, it is an invitation for just about every illegal alien to fraudulently claim the amnesty.

  • The alien then has six years to adjust his status from a conditional green card holder to a non-conditional one. To do so, he need only complete two years of study at an institution of higher edu­cation. If the alien has already completed two years of study, he can convert to non-conditional status immediately (and use his green card as a platform to bring in family members). As an alternative to two years of study, he can enlist in the U.S. military and spend two years there. This provision allows Senator Durbin to claim that the DREAM Act is somehow germane to a defense authorization bill.

  • An illegal alien who applies for the DREAM Act amnesty gets to count his years under "condi­tional" green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship. (Section 5(e)) On top of that, the illegal alien could claim "retroactive benefits" and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. (Section 6) In combi­nation, these two provisions put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship—moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully present aliens, meanwhile, must follow a slower path to citizenship.

  • It would be absurdly easy for just about any ille­gal alien—even one who does not qualify for the amnesty—to evade the law. According to Section 4(f) of the DREAM Act, once an alien files an application—any application, no matter how ridiculous—the federal government is prohib­ited from deporting him. Moreover, with few exceptions, federal officers are prohibited from either using information from the application to deport the alien or sharing that information with another federal agency, under threat of up to $10,000 fine. Thus, an alien's admission that he has violated federal immigration law cannot be used against him—even if he never had any chance of qualifying for the DREAM Act amnesty in the first place.
  • To follow up on Kobach's claim about deportation--in Section 3304 of one draft of this Act:
    (f) Removal of Alien.--The Secretary of Homeland Security may not remove any alien who has a pending application for conditional status under this title.
    How long could an application be pending for?