Politics & Policy

Amnesty Again

Back to the Senate.

Determined amnesty advocates who lost the fight for “comprehensive” immigration reform three months ago are now attempting to grant illegal aliens “amnesty on the installment plan.” Illegal aliens who entered the U.S. before age 16 and who have lived here illegally for five consecutive years will be the first to qualify under a bill the Senate is expected to vote on this week. Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) will offer his Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amendment to the defense-authorization bill. Later in the month, senators will attempt to extend amnesty to agricultural workers.

Under the DREAM Act, applicants for amnesty who claim to be enrolled in a community college, technical school, or university will receive immediate “conditional” legal status. Sound familiar? The Migration Policy Institute estimates that about 1.3 million illegal aliens will be eligible for the amnesty. Because the act’s provisions are retroactive, additional illegal aliens will also qualify. Along with illegal aliens who have graduated from high school or completed a G.E.D., any illegal alien, regardless of age, who initially came here illegally before age 16 and meets the education provisions qualifies for a green card and eventual citizenship. As green-card holders, they can all sponsor their illegal alien parents for green cards. To accommodate DREAM Act aliens and their parents, numerical limits on green cards are lifted.

The DREAM Act also makes illegal aliens, present and future, eligible for discounted, in-state tuition rates by repealing the federal law that prohibits such a benefit for illegal aliens, unless it is also extended to citizens and lawful residents. Unlike legal foreign students, illegal aliens will also qualify for federal financial assistance.

The DREAM Act enjoys bipartisan support. It’s backed by Senators Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy and its Republican co-sponsors include Senators Hagel, Lugar, Crapo, and Craig. Senator McCain supports the bill even though last November over 70 percent of Arizona voters opposed a proposition that would have qualified illegal aliens for in-state tuition.

 “Comprehensive” immigration reform included both beefed-up enforcement measures and amnesty for illegal aliens. The reform failed because public support for the former was overwhelmed by public opposition to the latter.  “Comprehensive” reform may be dead, but amnesty is very much alive.


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