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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I was very disappointed to learn recently that Senator Reid intends to bring up a very significant amnesty proposal next week known as the DREAM Act. It is disguised as an education initiative, but it will provide a powerful incentive for more illegal immigration by allowing States to grant in-state tuition to illegal alien students. This is a bad idea at any time, but this is a bad idea right now, at the worst possible time.
Unfortunately, this announcement isn't shocking given Senator Reid's and this administration's record of pushing policies on the American people that the people oppose. In these difficult economic times, it is really an insult to legal, taxpaying citizens that the President and Senator Reid would want to use their hard-earned money to pay for in-state college tuition for illegal aliens.
This horrible economy has increased the demand for enrollment and help at public universities. As a growing number of families are unable to afford an education at a private university, they turn to public universities in increasing numbers, and they turn to that help, including in State tuition, in increasing numbers. At a time when many Americans cannot afford to send their children to college at all, this bill would allow States to provide in-State tuition to illegal aliens who would displace legal residents competing for those taxpayer subsidies.
I am opposed to this proposal because of that--because it would unfairly place American citizens in direct competition with illegal aliens for very scarce slots in classes at State colleges and universities. The number of those coveted seats is fixed, so every illegal alien who would be admitted because of this through the DREAM Act would take the place of an American citizen or legal immigrant. It makes no sense to authorize Federal and State subsidies for education of illegal aliens, when our State schools are suffering, as higher education budgets are slashed, admissions are curtailed, and tuition is increased.
Enactment of the DREAM Act would do just that, and it would be bad policy under any circumstances, but in the current economic climate it would be a catastrophe.
Again, the DREAM Act would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States as minors and who meet loosely defined so-called educational requirements.
Specifically, the bill grants immediate legal status to illegals who have merely enrolled in an institution of higher education or received a high
school degree or diploma. The bill's sponsors described the beneficiaries of this legislation as ``kids,'' boys and girls. In reality, the DREAM Act is far broader than that. It would allow illegals up to the age of 35 to be eligible to receive this amnesty and qualify for Federal student loans.
The American people have made it very clear that they want to see the government fulfill its responsibility to enforce the laws on the books, take steps to control illegal immigration, not to reward bad behavior with tuition breaks.
Amnesty and economic incentives, such as taxpayer-subsidized tuition, only encourage more illegal immigration. This is certainly not the answer to our current immigration crisis and will only worsen our current economic crisis.
If Senator Reid does move forward with this proposal, I plan to file a second-degree amendment to strike the provision that allows States to grant in-State tuition for illegal aliens. It will be a very clear choice: Do you want these limited resources, this limited help, to go to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants or do you want illegals to compete for those and take some of those slots away from U.S. citizens and legal immigrants?
As chairman of the border security caucus, I will be fighting this overall measure tooth and nail and also advancing this second degree proposal. This is common sense. This is certainly the sentiment and the will of the American people.
I encourage all of my colleagues--Democrats and Republicans--to talk to Senator Reid to dissuade him from the bill overall and, if it comes to the floor, to support this second-degree amendment so that American citizens and legal aliens are not having slots taken away from them by illegals in this matter.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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