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Mini Amnesty

September 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Conciliation for big legislative failures often comes as passage of a miniaturized version of the proposal that helps only the most susceptible demographic: the children The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), for example, came about as a concession to Hillary Clinton (D-CA) after she failed to enact her health care reform in the 90s (aka Hillarycare). So far in the 110th Congress, the major legislative flop has been comprehensive immigration reform. And, appropriately, its miniaturized, child-specific counterpart, the DREAM Act, is ready to be voted on any day now.

The DREAM Act is designed to allow illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children (under the age 16), have graduated from high school, have no criminal record, and have remained in the country more-or-less since entering, and are currently under 30 years of age to apply for a conditional legal status. If they then complete either two years of college or two years in the military, they will be granted full legal status. It’s designed to help those who, through no fault of their own, ended up living in the United States illegally and face limited education and employment options.

The bill proved amnesty for the illegal immigrants who fit these requirements, and not surprisingly, the same no-amnesty-for-lawbreakers activist groups that were largely responsible for sinking the big immigration bill this summer are back at it, opposing this proposal as well.

The DREAM Act has been proposed by Dick Durbin (D-IL) as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill that is currently before the Senate. It is expected to come up for a vote by the end of the week.

Numbers USA, an anti-immigration group that was influential in the defeat of the comprehensive immigration bill this summer, is worried that the DREAM Act would provide a gateway for immigrants to lie their way into legal status. “There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents,” they write. "The proposal 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 30-and-under to fraudulently claim the amnesty."

The DREAM Act amendment language leaves the verification process up to the Department of Homeland Security. It reads, “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a procedure by regulation allowing eligible individuals to apply affirmatively for the relief available under this subsection without being placed in removal proceedings.”

For more arguments for and against the DREAM Act, see these competing editorial from The New York Times and Investor’s Business Daily.

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