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The DREAM Act Is an Amnesty Bill That America Cannot Afford

President Obama and the liberal open-border leadership of the Democratic Party are pushing for passage of legislation granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. They are doing this despite the fact that this costly legislation will make a difficult job market worse, will place a higher tax burden on Americans, will ensure greater difficulty in balancing budgets on the state and federal level, and will undermine respect for our nation’s immigration laws. -- Congress should wake up from this nightmare by defeating the DREAM Act.

In November, voters’ concerns about the weak economy and the poor job market contributed to the election of a large Republican majority in the House of Representatives. 

Voters understand, even if the Democratic leadership doesn’t, that granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens will make it even more difficult for unemployed Americans to find work. With the unemployment rate at 9.8 percent the last thing American job hunters need is millions of DREAM Act amnesty recipients competing with them for work.

The DREAM Act not only undermines economic opportunities for Americans, it also makes it less likely that either state governments or the federal government will bring their budgets into balance. 

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has released a report indicating that this amnesty bill will cost state and local taxpayers over $6.2 billion annually, not per decade as Congressional budgets are calculated, because state universities and local community colleges will be forced, by law, to grant illegal aliens in-state tuition discounts. The DREAM Act does not provide federal funding to cover these costs, meaning Americans will be required to pay higher taxes and higher tuition rates.

Providing facts about tuition fees provides insight into the magnitude of this unjust benefit being given to illegal aliens under the DREAM Act. At the University of Iowa, an in-state resident attending the College of Business pays $3,894 per semester while an out-of-state resident pays $12,068 per semester. At Iowa State University, an in-state resident pays $3,566 per semester to attend the College of Business, while an out-of-state resident pays $9,347. Other public universities show similar multipliers. In fact, in the University of California system, in-state residents pay no tuition at all, while out-of-state residents pay a non-resident tuition fee that costs $22,021 per year at all University of California campuses.

This tuition treatment creates a moral conundrum for DREAM Act supporters. What does one say to the widow or widower who has lost their husband or their wife in Iraq, or the child who lost their mother or father in Afghanistan, who is paying out-of-state tuition premiums while they are sitting at a desk next to someone who has received amnesty and a de facto scholarship under the DREAM Act?

Further, the deficit spending federal government will face huge spending increases under the DREAM Act. When amnesty proponents point to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis to claim that the DREAM Act has a short-term positive effect on budget deficits, they do so in an attempt to distract American taxpayers from the long-term negative effects on the budget that are much more pronounced and severe. CBO found that deficit spending on welfare programs would increase by at least $5 billion, and possibly much more, after 2020 as a result of granting DREAM Act amnesty.

As bad as the costs revealed by the CIS and CBO analysis are, it is likely that they are vastly understated because each analysis was based on the assumption that 1.1 million illegal aliens would receive DREAM Act amnesty. Other versions of the legislation currently before Congress (there are 4 versions that the Democratic leadership is circulating to confuse the issue for voters) are estimated to grant amnesty to over 2.1 million illegal aliens. 

Further, neither analysis includes the estimated impact of the costs to be incurred by the “backdoor amnesty” the bill provides for the family members of illegal aliens. Many do not realize that illegal aliens who receive amnesty under the bill become eligible at the age of 21 to sponsor members of their family for citizenship too. The cost of “chain migration” will be enormous.

There is also an additional cost for passing amnesty. It is the cost incurred when respect for the Rule of Law is undermined. It has been 24 years since a “one time only” amnesty bill was signed into law and, millions upon millions of illegal border crossings later, it is clear that the 1986 legislation only served as an incentive for further lawbreaking. 

In addition, since the DREAM Act prevents the federal government from deporting anyone who applies for amnesty under it, anyone who can sneak into the United States and file a DREAM Act application will have an automatic and legal stay of deportation until the already overloaded courts can make a decision.-- The result will be millions of bogus DREAM Act filings and the function will be a de facto visa to stay in the United States.

The DREAM Act is an amnesty bill that America cannot afford. It is unjust to those who have played by the rules in order to come into the country legally, and it is unjust to American taxpayers who will be asked to shoulder the costs of rewarding illegal immigrants for ignoring the law. Americans should demand that it be defeated.

Congressman Steve King represents Iowa’s Fifth Congressional District and serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration.