Madam President, I was truly disappointed to learn that Senator Reid intends to bring up a new version of the sweeping amnesty proposal, known as the DREAM Act. Disguised as an educational initiative, the DREAM Act will provide a powerful incentive for more illegal immigration by granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.
The bill, which is unaffordable for taxpayers in many different ways, is a bad idea and comes at the worst possible time. As of recently, there are now plenty different versions of the DREAM Act on the legislative calendar, with different moving parts and revisions, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter which one you focus on; they all have the same core, which is amnesty for a significant number of illegal aliens.
Also with that amnesty would come very significant taxpayer-funded benefits for these folks, including instate college tuition. In these difficult economic times, it is an insult to legal, tax-paying citizens that President Obama and his allies in the Senate want to use their hard-earned money to pay for educational benefits for illegal aliens.
The struggling economy has increased the demand for enrollment in public universities, as a growing number of families are unable to afford other education. At a time when many Americans cannot afford to send their own children to college, this bill would clearly allow the government to provide Federal student loans to illegal aliens who will displace legal residents competing for taxpayer subsidies. I am opposed to this proposal because it would unfairly place American citizens in direct competition with illegal aliens for scarce slots in classes at State colleges. The number of those coveted seats is absolutely fixed. So every illegal alien who would be admitted as a result of the DREAM Act would take the place of an American citizen or someone who is legally in our country. It makes no sense to authorize Federal and State subsidies for the education of illegal aliens when our State schools are suffering, as higher education budgets are being slashed, admissions curtailed, tuitions increased.
Enactment of the DREAM Act would be bad policy under any circumstances, but in the current economic climate, it would be a catastrophe for States facing already strained budgets. The DREAM Act will continue amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States as minors and meet loosely defined ``educational requirements.'' Specifically, the bill grants immediate legal status to illegal aliens who have merely enrolled in institutions of higher education or received a high school degree or diploma.
The sponsors say several things to try to mitigate this basic fact, but it doesn't.
First of all, they have described the beneficiaries in this legislation as kids, boys and girls. In reality, the DREAM Act allows illegal aliens up to the age of 30 to be eligible to receive amnesty and qualify for Federal student loans.
Second, Harry Reid and the bill's proponents argue that this new version of the DREAM Act has been narrowly tailored. I don't believe the American public would be convinced that dropping the age of eligibility from 35 to 30 transforms the core of this legislation or changes anything at its core.
Third, the new and improved DREAM Act also requires that illegal aliens seeking relief undergo a background check and submit biometric and biographic data. Again, that doesn't change the core of the bill, which is about amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, thereby putting them in a position to compete for important taxpayer-funded benefits with U.S. citizens.
Furthermore, the new version of the DREAM Act expands the waiver authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security, thereby negating any additional requirements for eligibility. The bar for eligibility is already extremely low, but even what little is required can be waived whenever that Secretary decides to do so.
The American people have made it very clear--crystal clear--that they want to see the government fulfill its responsibility to enforce the laws and to take steps to control illegal immigration, not to reward bad behavior with amnesty and taxpayer-funded benefits.
Amnesty and economic incentives only encourage more illegal immigration. This is certainly not the answer to our current, ongoing immigration crisis. It will only worsen our economic crisis. I am really outraged that any elected lawmaker would consider this proposal, particularly now, particularly when our States and fellow citizens are struggling to deal with economic hardship and budget cuts.
The DREAM Act also includes no cap on the number of those who will be eligible to receive this amnesty. The economic ramifications would be profound and are simply unacceptable.
Finally, there is absolutely no pay-for in this legislation, while it is beyond argument that the act will increase costs on the Federal taxpayer.
So, bottom line, this bill is absolutely increasing the Federal deficit and the Federal debt--we don't know by exactly how much. To help answer that question, I am writing the Congressional Budget Office today and asking for an immediate score of the newest version of the DREAM Act. Whatever the number is--and it is important that we get that number--let me underscore that it is beyond debate that there is significant cost to this bill, without any pay-fors. That means the DREAM Act will also increase the Federal deficit and the Federal debt.
As chairman of the Border Security Caucus, I will be fighting this measure every step of the way, doing everything I can to stop what is clearly, at its core, an amnesty proposal. I invite all Members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, to listen to the American people who have been speaking about this loud and clear and to heed their call and say no to amnesty and turn to what should be our clear priority, which is enforcing the laws on the books, enforcing the clear laws against illegal immigration.
With that, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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