Politico provides a detailed look at the strategy Senate Republicans plan to use against the DREAM Act. Here are some excerpts from the article:
Senate Republicans and their conservative allies are sharpening their attacks on the proposed DREAM Act that would provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, declaring it would give “amnesty” to millions — some of them criminals.
The legislation, which would apply to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, has been overshadowed by other big-ticket items on the lame-duck congressional calendar. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are now pushing for votes on it this year.
Already, GOP staffers have begun circulating to senators and conservative groups a white paper outlining what they see as the social and financial costs of passing the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
“In addition to immediately putting an estimated 2.1 million illegal immigrants (including certain criminal aliens) on a path to citizenship, the DREAM Act would give them access to in-state tuition rates at public universities, federal student loans and federal work-study programs,” said the research paper, being distributed by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The paper adds that those who obtain legal status under the DREAM Act would have the right to seek naturalization for their family members, including the parents who illegally brought them to the U.S. as children.
“In less than a decade, this reality could easily double or triple the more than 2.1 million green cards that will be immediately distributed as a result of the DREAM Act,” the paper states.
The Heritage Foundation, one of many conservative groups that have received a copy of the paper, is also pumping out information about what it sees as flaws in the proposed law. The foundation is sending out research papers to its 700,000 members and posting blogs written by its analysts.
“People do not want to degrade our immigration laws further, and that’s what the DREAM Act would do,” said Jena Baker McNeill, a homeland security policy analyst at Heritage. “We’re just being honest what the bill is: It seems like a good bill until you look and see it’s very much an amnesty bill that will encourage people to come here illegally.”
The bill’s backers, though, say it outlines a “rigorous and lengthy process” for legalization, hardly the amnesty plan that opponents have depicted.
Eligible immigrants must have entered the U.S. before age 16, lived in the country at least five consecutive years before the bill’s enactment; been younger than 35 at the time of enactment; admitted to a college or earned a high-school diploma or GED certificate; and should have no serious criminal record.
Those who receive conditional resident status would need to attend college or serve in the military at least two years.
“This is about accountability, not amnesty,” said a White House official who’s been closely monitoring the DREAM Act. “It will take a few Republicans to get this through Congress, but they have to realize we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. They have to help govern and to solve some of the problems.”
Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar is the only Republican who has signed onto the Durbin bill. But more GOP support will be crucial to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to thwart a filibuster given that some Democrats have already voiced their opposition.
“I’m not going to support any act that I don’t think adds to jobs, or military or to the economy. Consequently I won’t support any motion to proceed or any kind of cloture on the DREAM Act,” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told POLITICO. “In addition, I think that has to be part of an overall comprehensive solution to immigration once we have the border secured, not until then.”
Reid has argued to the contrary, saying the legislation recognizes that immigrants are a critical component to a thriving economy and rewards those fighting to defend America’s freedom.
“This bill will give children brought illegally to this country at no fault of their own the chance to earn legal status,” Reid said.