Ahead of Vote, Sessions Urges Colleagues To Oppose DREAM Act Mass Amnesty
“The DREAM Act would grant nearly unrestricted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens—adults and youth alike. They do not even need a high school diploma, they certainly do not need a college degree, and they do not need to join the military. In fact, the bill’s eligibility provisions are so broad that even repeat criminal offenders would fall within its loose requirements and qualify for this mass amnesty.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered the following remarks today prior to the scheduled cloture vote on the DREAM Act mass amnesty bill.
Sessions’ remarks, as prepared, follow:
“One of the major themes of the recent election was an idea set forth in the Declaration of Independence. This idea—a bedrock principle of our country—is that a government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed.”
But many Americans have felt for some time now that Washington has become disconnected from the people it serves. Indeed, a recent poll found that only 1 in 5 Americans feel that the government is operating with the consent of the governed. And now, on the heels of this historic midterm election, Democrat leaders are further eroding these bonds of trust by refusing to listen and by moving an amnesty bill that violates a clear American view that border security should be first.
The American people understand—and I think Congress is coming to understand also—that ending the lawlessness at our borders is the first thing that must be done, and then we can wrestle with what to do about the people who are here illegally.
Making matters worse, Democrat Leaders have introduced four versions of the DREAM Act in just over two months, three in the last two weeks—a shell game that abuses the legislative process. We have not had hearings on this in seven years.
Meanwhile, the DREAM Act has been promoted as a bill for ambitious youth on track to graduate high school and college and maybe join the military. But the truth is far different from this talking point. In reality, the DREAM Act would grant nearly unrestricted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens—adults and youth alike. They do not even need a high school diploma, they certainly do not need a college degree, and they do not need to join the military.
In fact, the bill’s eligibility provisions are so broad that even repeat criminal offenders would fall within its loose requirements and qualify for this mass amnesty.
The public has pleaded with Congress time and again to secure our border. But those pleas have been ignored by those pushing this bill.
Americans want us to first enforce the laws we have. But this bill would reward and encourage their violation.
Americans want Congress to end the lawlessness. But this bill would have us surrender to it.
Consider some of the DREAM Act’s core features:
- The DREAM Act is not limited to children. Illegal aliens as old as 30 are eligible on the date of enactment. And they remain eligible to apply at any future age, as the registration window does not close.
- You not need a high school diploma, a college degree, or military service in order to receive DREAM Act amnesty. Illegal aliens can receive indefinite legal status as long as they have a GED. And they can receive permanent legal status and a guaranteed path to citizenship as long as they complete just two years of college or trade school.
- One version of the DREAM Act offers illegal aliens in-state tuition for which many American citizens are not eligible. All four versions provided illegal aliens with federal educations benefits such as work-study programs, federal student loans, and access to public colleges that are already short on spaces and resources.
- The Congressional Budget Office says that, over time, the bill would add $5 billion to the deficit. But the number is likely to be dramatically higher. The CBO has clearly failed to account for a number of major costs factors with the DREAM Act, including unemployment, public education costs, chain migration, and fraud. Nor does the CBO take into account what history has proven: passing amnesty will incentivize even more illegality and lawlessness at the border. I wish it were not so; but experience teaches us that it is. In addition, the CBO assumes a large portion of these individuals will obtain jobs, but there is no surplus of job opportunities today. There is a surplus of labor who can’t find employment. The score doesn’t count unemployed American citizens who can’t get jobs because of additional competition.
- Estimates conservatively say that at least 1.3 million illegal aliens will be immediately eligible for DREAM Act amnesty. But that number will grow significantly as the bill has no cap or sunset. Moreover, those who obtain legal status can then do the same for their relatives—even if those relatives brought them here illegally in the first place.
- Many with criminal records will also be eligible for the DREAM Act’s mass amnesty. They simply must have less than three misdemeanor convictions. Less than three. Those potentially eligible would include drunk drivers, gang members, and even those who have committed certain sexual offenses. The most recent version of the bill also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security broad authority to waive ineligibility for even the most severe criminal offenders and those who pose a threat to our national security. Remember, every day, for a host of reasons, prosecutors plea bargain felonies to misdemeanors. Maybe a witness didn’t show up. Maybe the case load is overwhelming. Every day, prosecutors allow people to plead to misdemeanors when the offense they’ve committed is a felony. Allowing a person to have two misdemeanors is a serious loophole, and does not suggest that their criminal activity is insignificant or non-consequential.
- Surprisingly, those who commit document fraud or who lie to immigration authorities are eligible for the amnesty as well. This is particularly troubling as it contains a potential loophole for high-risk individuals to be placed on a pathway to citizenship. One of the warning signs missed prior to 9/11 were the fraudulent visa applications submitted by the 9/11 hijackers.
- The DREAM Act even contains a safe harbor provision that would prevent many applicants from being removed as long as their application is pending—even if they have a serious criminal record. This provision would dramatically hinder federal authorities and will undoubtedly unleash a torrent of costly litigation.
Let there be no doubt. A vote for cloture is a vote for mass amnesty. It is a vote for rewarding lawlessness. It is a vote to force unemployed Americans to compete with millions of illegal workers in the midst of a recession with unemployment still rising.
A vote for cloture is a vote to undermine efforts to stem the chaos and violence on the border. It is a vote to drive the government deeper into debt. It is a vote to delay the creation of responsible, lawful immigration policy that the public has demanded.
Americans are willing to consider some form of regular status for those who have peacefully lived and worked here for an extended period of time—but only after the border is secure. They will not fall for the ruse that we can have amnesty first and security later. They understand that if we do not secure the border first we may never secure it at all.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose this proposal. It will be a message that America is serious about our borders, that we are serious about our laws, and that we will no longer tolerate and incentivize illegality. It will say don’t come illegally, it won’t be successful. It will say apply, wait your time, and come legally. I urge my colleagues to oppose cloture and to join me in working toward a secure, just, and legal system of immigration that befits this great country.”