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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise in strong opposition to this legislation.
I say to my good friend, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, this bill has been around for a long time for good reason. It is a bad bill, having been around for a long time, for this entire Congress, for 2 years, no hearing in the Judiciary Committee, no hearing in the chairman's committee for the entire 2 years, and now here we are within a week of adjourning the Congress, still no hearing. No opportunity for people to come in and testify before the Congress about how this would work, how we will screen out the people who will commit fraud under this, how unfair it is to people who wait for years, who are legally going through the process of becoming immigrants. No opportunity in the committee to improve the bill. No opportunity to offer amendments. Why? Because no markup was held for 2 years.
Now, the indignity of it all is that here in the closing days of the Congress, when this bill has been brought forward in this urgent manner, we are not even given the opportunity, as the minority is always given, to offer a motion to recommit, no opportunity to amend this bill in any way, shape or form, as though this was perfectly drawn and perfectly brought here, and that anybody who was not in the small room where the final version of this, totally without the inspection of the American people, totally without the opportunity for anybody to participate, brought here in some perfect manner; and now, of course, we are going to pass it without even the opportunity for the minority to offer changes to the bill.
The American people have recently demonstrated their strong opposition to amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, yet the DREAM Act offers amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before they were 16 years old. It grants them permanent residence and then citizenship once they have completed 2 years of college or have served in the armed services, unless the Department of Homeland Security waives these requirements because of hardship, something not defined in the bill, a very, very big loophole.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the DREAM Act could mean mass amnesty for 2.1 million illegal immigrants. Fraud will likely drive the number much higher as illegal immigrants discovery how easy it is to claim that they arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
The same thing occurred after the 1986 amnesty bill, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, was enacted. Everyone said that was going to end illegal immigration. It opened the doors to more. This is going to do exactly the same thing.
The DREAM Act makes it easy for almost any illegal immigrant, even those who do not qualify for this amnesty, to evade the law. Once an alien, no matter who they are, files an application, no matter how spurious, the Federal Government is prohibited from deporting that illegal immigrant. This is ripe for fraud and is unfair and should be opposed.
And once the DREAM Act beneficiaries apply for amnesty, they will be given work authorization. So these individuals who have broken the law will be legitimately competing for jobs with the 9.8 percent of Americans who are currently unemployed.
The DREAM Act subsidizes the college education of illegal immigrants at taxpayer (expense. DREAM Act beneficiaries are eligible for certain higher education assistance programs including subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford student loans. Taxpayers pay the interest on unsubsidized Stafford loans as long as the borrower is in school. And DREAM Act beneficiaries are eligible for Perkins loans, work study and certain other college access and college persistence programs--all of which are funded at least in part by the U.S. taxpayer. In addition, both Stafford and Perkins loans are eligible for loan forgiveness after certain requirements are met. So some illegal immigrants will not even be required to pay back the money they borrowed from U.S. taxpayers. U.S. citizens should be first in line to receive taxpayer subsidies--not those who are violating Federal law.
Once a DREAM Act beneficiary obtains lawful permanent residence he is automatically exempt from the 5-year wait period specified in section 403 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613), to receive means-tested public welfare benefits. The costs of this to American taxpayers could be enormous.
DREAM Act beneficiaries are required to undergo background checks to the ``satisfaction'' of the Secretary of Homeland Security. But there is no way to verify that the person is who they say they are.
The DREAM Act will encourage more illegal immigration since illegal immigrant parents will bring their children with them in the expectation that they will benefit from another DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a dream for those who have broken the law, but a nightmare for law-abiding and taxpaying Americans.
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