Immediately after the defeat of the S 1348 amnesty, I warned in Human Events that we could expect a series of mini amnesties beginning with the DREAM Act, which would give amnesty to illegal aliens who came to this country before the age of 16 and who achieve a high school diploma or GED. (DREAM stands for "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors", which was likely an afterthought, as with the "Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism " Act—the DREAM Act is supposed to evoke the American Dream, just as the PATRIOT Act is supposed to evoke patriotism. )
Just on schedule, the nightmare begins. The DREAM Act is expected to tacked on to a Senate defense appropriations bill and voted on as early as this week.
There are several factors that make this bill difficult to defeat. The Bush administration had taken some steps—both symbolically and logistically—to beef up border security and interior enforcement. While obviously inadequate, these provide some cover. So a number of Senators who voted against amnesty in June now suggest they are inclined to vote for the DREAM amnesty. That it was attached to a defense bill, rather than a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, was probably intended to give Democrats leverage by conceding the Republicans' defense agenda in exchange for support of DREAM ACT.
There are many easy ways to rebut these arguments. The deportation of Elvira Arellano may have been an important symbolic message—but it doesn't change the fact that our borders are not secure, and there are still 12-20 million illegal aliens in this country flouting our laws, and they aren't going back soon.
Furthermore, if the DREAM Act supporters really believe in this legislation, they should introduce it as a separate bill and let it stand or fall on its own merits. It is hard to see how giving amnesty to at least one million illegal aliens—some of whom are no doubt potential terrorists—has anything to do with National Defense.
Dick Durbin, who is responsible for tacking it on to the defense bill, justifies the action because the DREAM Act contains a provision that gives some illegals permanent legal status in exchange for military service. This fits with the ideals of many Invade The World/Invite The World neoconservatives like Max Boot who have called for an illegal alien legion.
In the end, of course, what makes this amnesty more appealing to many Senators is that it is ostensibly limited to people who came to the country when they were children. They argue that no one should punish a child for the transgressions of his parents, so we must grant them legal status.
Maybe the illegal aliens who were brought here as children aren't to blame. However, the problem with that line of argument is it assumes that not being given legal status is a punishment. But being a legal resident, much less a citizen, of the United States is a privilege—not a right for anyone born outside this country.
There are billions of children across the globe who are living in conditions much worse than illegal alien children in the U.S.—and for that matter even worse than in Mexico. There are also hundreds of thousands of foreigners waiting in line to come to this country legally. There is absolutely no reason why the children of parents who broke the law have any more claim to the blessing of living in America than they do.
If we accept the illegal aliens who came here as children have no right to be here, we should ask if they are good for Americans. In many ways, the children are worse. While it is true that by undercutting wages, illegal aliens give some very marginal macroeconomic gains to the economy, this is greatly outweighed by the benefits that are largely given to their children, such as public schools and Medicaid. While adult illegal aliens may be hard-working, the data is clear that many of their children are assimilating downwards, to American underclass.
Immigration enthusiasts constantly repeat the adage: "Immigrants do the jobs Americans won't do." Yet this bill also gives illegal aliens in state tuition and federal loans at colleges where the vast majority of them will also benefit from racial preferences. Last I checked, going to college wasn't a "job Americans won't do." In fact, it seems like there was quite a bit of noise made by politicians about the increased cost of tuition and abuse of student loans.
At least where I went to college, they don't teach you how to mow lawns or wash dishes. So on graduating all these illegals will now be competing for even more jobs that Americans are more than willing to do. I have no desire to have a Mexican servile class, but many immigration enthusiasts apparently do—witness Karl Rove telling a Republican women's group that he didn't want his son to pick tomatoes—yet this is completely contradictory to the propaganda behind the DREAM Act.
And while it may be true that "the children aren't to blame", there still is someone who is to blame: the children's parents who brought them to this country illegally. But once these children are put on "a path to citizenship" they will become "anchor adults"—who will be able to sponsor their illegal alien parents and other family members.
Even if this bill goes according to plan, it would be a disaster. But of course it won't go according to plan—there is plenty of room for fraud that will make it even worse.
The biggest loophole: because illegal aliens often operate under the table, there is no way to prove how long they have been in the country, and how old they were when they first came. This bill envisages no upper age limit, so any illegal alien can say they came here under the age of sixteen. According to Kris Kobach, in a Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, "a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15." [A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act, September 13, 2007]. All they need to do to "prove" they were under 16 when they broke into this country is…sign an affidavit.
To make matters worse, once an illegal alien files an application—no matter how far fetched it is—he cannot be deported.
The DREAM act debate will set the stage for many more mini-amnesties. It will be a big test for the patriotic immigration reform movement.
As I noted in my post mortem of the Amnesty/Immigration Surge Bill at VDARE.COM, the Open Borders lobby is hoping that the mass opposition to the Bush/ Kennedy amnesty was just a flash in the pan. For all the talk of a "techno-populist" rebellion I am worried that all the bloggers and talk radio show hosts who opposed the last amnesty are too busy cheerleading the war in Iraq to stop the invasion at home.
As in the summer, America's one hope is that patriotic Americans let their politicians know that they are opposed to all amnesties of all sizes and they won't forgive any of them pass—even if "it's for the children."
Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is the founder of the Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the The American Cause and Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be seen here. The views he expresses are his own.