When Congress convenes for its lame duck session on November 29, it will be asked by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to vote on an amnesty bill deceptively called “the Dream Act” by its open borders supporters. If passed, it will be a nightmare for the rule of law and a death knell for genuine immigration reform.
That this amnesty bill is being taken up by the lame duck session of a Congress that has been soundly repudiated by the American people is bad enough. Lame duck sessions ought to consider only emergency bills with broad bipartisan backing, not contentious measures that can only be passed by politicians who can ignore the will of voters. But that is eerily in keeping with the dishonest character of the long debate over the “Dream Act.”
I say the debate is dishonest because the bill’s true intent is hidden behind humanitarian appeals, deceptive numbers and misrepresentations. Most dishonest of all is the insistence that enacting this amnesty for over two million individuals will not have any incentive effect for others who will rationally calculate that they can get the same thing for their children if they can smuggle them across our border.
For the past thirty years, each amnesty has been sold to Congress as “the last amnesty,” and each one lays the groundwork for the next. That anyone chooses to believe the opposite is testimony to the power of self-deception.
Ostensibly, the proposal will bar deportation and grant a path to citizenship to an estimated two million individuals who were brought to the US as children by their illegal alien parents. Any person up to the age of 35 can apply for this prize merely by enrolling in college or the military. They don’t have to finish college, they merely have to enroll for two years—and if they drop out of a two-year college program, they can apply for a waiver under the law’s “hardship” provisions. No one can be deported once an application is made, even if it takes years to adjudicate.
Contrary to the packaging, this is not an amnesty for “kids trying to go to college” unless a 34 year-old who came here at age seven and stayed illegally for 27 years can be called a kid. Criminal aliens convicted of marriage fraud, visa fraud, multiple DUI’s, voter fraud and other “minor crimes” will be eligible for this amnesty.
A second dishonesty is in the estimated number of illegal alien who may qualify. The number widely used is 2.1 million. Why should we be skeptical of this number? First, there is the rudimentary fact that the federal government does not know how many illegal aliens are in the United States today and continually low-balls the number to minimize the problem. The official US Census estimate of 11.3 million is a laughable figure. Independent estimates not constrained by political expediency have ranged from 20 million to 35 million. In 2006 TIME magazine estimated that three million new interlopers cross the border each year. Visa overstays alone are at least five million.
A second reason for doubt about the number is the immigration bureaucracy’s poor record in making such estimates. In 1986 when Congress was considering the amnesty included in the Immigration Reform and Control Act, a federal interagency task force spent weeks studying the data from several sources. They concluded that perhaps 2.2 million people might qualify under the provisions of the act. Ten years after it passed, over four million had been granted amnesty.
A third reason I can confidently predict that the number who “qualify” for amnesty under the Dream Act will be at least double the official estimate is the absolute certainty of epidemic document fraud in student visas, ID cards, utility bills, rent receipts and pay stubs. Document fraud was rampant after the 1986 amnesty and the technology for producing fake documents is far better today than in 1986.
The cold truth is that any illegal alien under the age of 40 will be able to obtain passable documents showing he came here with a parent at an early age and has been here all that time. Moreover, aliens sitting today in Mexico City, Cairo, Budapest or Singapore will be able to purchase such documents after arriving here in 2011.
The main argument in favor of pursing this nightmare is that “we should not blame children for the sins of their parents.” But not “blaming” the children does not justify rewarding the parents’ actions and offering powerful incentives to others to follow their example. The children should blame the parents for their unlawful actions, but this law asks us to thank them instead.
There is a perverse logic in the “Dream amnesty” legislation, which runs like this. Since the open borders lobby has been successful in blocking enforcement of our immigration laws so that the parents who entered our country illegally fifteen years ago were never sent home with their children, we owe it to their children to give them citizenship. By most standards this is called rewarding bad behavior, which is a sure formula for getting more of it.
Transparency is the new watchword of good government, but somehow immigration law is exempt from this standard. There is hardly anything about this proposal that can survive the spotlight of honest scrutiny. Only a lame duck Congress could get away with such hypocrisy and chicanery.
Rocky Mountain Foundation