Hearing on S. 952, the DREAM Act of 2011
Statement of Dan Stein
President, Federation for American Immigration Reform
to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
This testimony describes FAIR's opposition to legislation that would provide an amnesty to a large class of illegal aliens.
This statement is submitted on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform's (FAIR) more than a quarter million members and activists. FAIR is a national, non-profit public interest organization that works to end illegal immigration, restore moderate legal immigration levels and reform our immigration laws to bring them into accord with the national interest. In addition to representing the views of our members, FAIR represents the views of a majority of American voters in opposition to enactment of the DREAM Act as documented in a November 2010 public opinion poll.1
UNDERMINING THE RULE OF LAW
FAIR opposes the DREAM Act (S.952) for numerous reasons. Chief among them is that every time an amnesty provision is adopted it weakens the fabric of our immigration laws that are intended to regulate immigration in support of national interests. The nation learned a hard lesson with the enactment of the amnesty provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 (IRCA). IRCA purported to simultaneously curb illegal immigration by adopting sanctions on employers who hire illegal workers and, at the same time, grant legal residence and work authorization to those who were already here illegally. The fact that today we have 11 to 13 million illegal aliens in the U.S. demonstrates that rather than diminish the problem, the 1986 amnesty aggravated it.
The 1986 amnesty had a dramatic impact on our immigration system. The message that it sent outside of our borders was that the U. S. did not seriously intend to discourage illegal immigration. If one could get into the country with a visa or by sneaking across the border, one could get a job and count on this country to eventually accept his illegal act by granting amnesty for these immigration law breakers. That is a perception that must be reversed.
Granting amnesty to aliens illegally in the U.S. is equivalent to accepting them as if they had entered as legal immigrants. It means authorizing them to work here legally, and it allows them to compete with our own citizens for access to public schooling and social welfare programs. The reason that we have immigration laws rather than open borders is because we want to protect our citizens from unwanted and unnecessary competition for limited resources.
At a time when the country is coping with enormous problems of unemployment and a spiraling national debt and state debt crises, it is especially implausible to think that it is in the national interest to make an exception to the law in order to incorporate millions of illegal immigrants as permanent competitors for limited resources. It is cavalier disregard of the struggle and suffering of American citizens to propose to offer access to jobs, scholarships and social welfare benefits to foreign nationals rather than to prevent this unfair competition.
CURRENT IMMIGRATION LEVELS ARE UNSUSTAINABLE
We should never turn our back on our heritage of harnessing the talent and dedication of immigrants in our national development. But that heritage should be seen in the context of history. The United States is no longer a country being settled from coast to coast largely by immigrants, nor is it undergoing rapid industrialization aided by immigrant labor. Our country is already heavily populated and still growing rapidly by about three million additional people each year largely because of unprecedented levels of legal and illegal immigration. In order to safeguard our nation’s future, we must return to a level of moderate legal immigration in which immigration ceases to be the main driver of population increase.
THREATS TO NATIONAL SECURITY
Today, we are a country living under the threat of international terrorism, and that underscores the essential need to no longer accept persons streaming into the country with little or no screening. Yet, that is exactly what is encouraged when we advertise to the world that we do not have the will to enforce our immigration law against illegal residence.
Adoption of a new and extensive amnesty for illegal aliens as is proposed in the DREAM Act would reduce the number of illegal aliens in the country by making them legal residents, but the reduction would be short lived as millions more interpret the action as a sign of weakness and decide to join the throng attempting to line up for the next amnesty. Meanwhile, the population of illegal aliens entering and residing illegally would continue to provide protective cover for international terrorists who also entered the United States by avoiding detection.
A CHOICE OF COMPASSION
FAIR recognizes that there are some young illegal aliens, brought into the country by their parents, who have excelled in school and have significant personal accomplishments. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that our strength as a nation of laws will be eroded if we make exceptions for these youth by ignoring their illegal presence in our society. We cannot ignore the fact that the benefit the DREAM Act would confer on millions of illegal aliens would at the same time diminish opportunities for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Those who support the DREAM Act focus only on a handful of exceptional illegal aliens and ignore the greater problem. They hide the fact that amnesty recipients under the DREAM Act may sponsor their parents who illegally brought their children into the U.S. and contributed to the chaos that currently characterizes our immigration system.
AN INVITATION TO FRAUD
In addition to promoting bad public policy, the DREAM Act creates open invitation to fraud. For example, how could it be established at what age a person came to the U.S. illegally? How could even the current age of the illegal alien be established? What is the meaning of “good moral character”? How would the Department of Homeland Security process millions of applications and maintain the integrity of the process and secure our nation? If illegal aliens try to qualify for the amnesty through fraud, why would that information be withheld from law enforcement personnel? Wouldn’t that simply invite the use of fraud? Proponents of the legislation have been unable to provide sufficient answers to these questions and many other questions like them.
The DREAM Act is legislation that rewards individuals for breaking our immigration laws and does so at the expense of our national interest. Proponents of the legislation ignore the fact that the DREAM Act contains provisions that will have long-term negative consequences for this country. FAIR is committed to educating the public on the negative impacts this legislation would have on our nation.
- 54% of likely voters oppose the DREAM Act, compared to 38% who support its passage (Pulse, November 2010).