A Backdoor Path to Amnesty?
by Rob Bluey, July 23, 2013 Heritage Foundation
Credit: J. Emilio Flores/LA Opinion/Newscom
Members of Congress have debated various versions of the DREAM Act more than 30 times over the past dozen years. They’ll do so again today, possibly setting the stage for a backdoor path to amnesty in the U.S. House.
Although no bill text is available — and might not be until after the August recess — a Judiciary Committee panel will hold a hearing this afternoon addressing the immigration status of an estimated 2.8 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.
>>> DREAM Act Hearings: 5 Questions for Congress
President Obama, as he’s done often, decided to sidestep Congress last year to implement aspects of the DREAM Act using executive action. The administration deferred, for two years, the removal of certain illegal immigrants.
The issue resurfaced earlier this year in the Senate’s Gang of Eight amnesty bill. And now it appears the House is preparing to introduce its own legislation as part of its piece-by-piece approach to immigration reform.
The House proposal, tentatively called the Kids Act, is the work of two Virginia Republicans: Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. Last week, Heritage called on the lawmakers to make text of the legislation available so the public can examine it in the context of other immigration proposals. They said it wasn’t written yet.
>>> DREAM Act: Heritage Foundation Recommendations
Even without legislative language, conservatives know enough about previous proposals to be skeptical. Over the past decade, both Democrats and Republicans have rejected numerous bills mirroring the DREAM Act.
Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman warned that “Any DREAM Act legislation put on the table this time around is not likely to be different from these very proposals that Congress has tried and rejected in the past.”
To help members of Congress understand what’s at stake, Heritage compiled recommendations and Zuckerman pinpointed five questions that must be addressed at today’s committee hearing. They include:
- Would this endanger the lives of children by encouraging greater trafficking across the increasingly dangerous U.S.-Mexico border?
- Is the proposal fair to the estimated 4.4 million people who are waiting to come to the U.S. legally?
- Would it promote greater family chain migration, resulting in double or triple the number of illegal aliens ultimately receiving amnesty?
- What is to prevent DREAM Act legislation from becoming a vehicle for an amnesty like the Senate bill?
- What would make this different from the past proposals that have been repeatedly rejected by Congress?
Conservatives should be aware that any legislation passed by the House could become a vehicle for backroom deal-making that ultimately moves the Senate’s amnesty bill to Obama’s desk. That includes a version of the DREAM Act being debated today.