A Reoccurring DREAM: Congress Continues to Push Toward Amnesty

Drew Lacey /

Here we go again. On May 11, Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL) again introduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or “DREAM” Act (S. 952). The bill allows for illegal immigrants between the ages of 15–35 who attend college or serve in the military for two years to obtain legal permanent resident status.

The act has been a hotly debated topic for the better part of a decade when the first edition was introduced in the 107th Congress. The text of the legislation has barely changed, but the strategy in which to debate the bill has hit a new low.

On June 28, Durbin held a subcommittee hearing, and the mood was of much anticipation. Sitting in the audience were many young illegal immigrants who would benefit from the act. These individuals have come to be known as “DREAMers.” But rather than highlighting the need for deliberative debate on this serious topic, Durbin instead turned toward students parading around the hearing in caps and gowns.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), however, captured the correct frame of mind of focusing on the issues:

I agree that diversity has made this country the greatest in the world. We are a nation of immigrants and continue to be an incredibly welcoming nation. But we need to be cautious when considering proposals that incentivize and reward illegal behavior.

Those in opposition or concerned about the bill questioned many key points of the legislation, including the “waiver clause,” which allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend the requirements for citizenship for “humanitarian purposes or family unity or when it is otherwise in the public interest.” The phrase “otherwise in the public interest” is so vague that it would create an opening for backdoor amnesty at the Administration’s discretion.

Change is indeed needed to fix America’s broken borders and flawed immigration system, but this bill would do more harm than good. The DREAM Act is not a one-time-cure for the U.S.’s immigration policy; on the contrary, it would likely create a new wave of immigrants flocking to America in hopes of another amnesty. Congress should remain vigilant and act with long-term solutions in mind. It is time to rise above these diversionary tactics and get down to business solving the immigration problem.

Drew Lacey is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm