Opinion

There’s no such thing as a Republican DREAM Act

Senator Marco Rubio is planning to introduce a Republican version of the DREAM Act, a bill that grants legal status to young illegal immigrants. While the DREAM Act has received some support from RINOs like Lindsey Graham and Richard Lugar in the past, Republicans have largely opposed it. When the lame-duck Democrats tried to pass it in December 2010, only three Republican senators and eight Republican representatives went along.

Sen. Rubio opposes the old DREAM Act, but he claims that he will craft his bill to address Republican concerns with that piece of legislation. Based on his initial statements, though, it looks like he has not yet dealt with the original DREAM Act’s basic problems.

Sen. Rubio rightly notes some of the major issues with the old DREAM Act. He told National Review, “The problem is that all of the existing policy proposals that are out there like the DREAM Act create amnesty. They create incentives for illegal immigration, chain migration and all sorts of problems.”

His point about the incentives the old DREAM Act would have created for chain migration is important. No one blames the illegal immigrants who were brought here as children for their situations. However, the blame belongs on their parents for breaking the law, not on America for being a nation of laws. Under the previous DREAM Act legislation, the illegal immigrants who got amnesty could then sponsor their parents as legal immigrants.

Sen. Rubio suggested that this problem could be solved by creating “a visa process that legalizes [the family members of DREAM Act recipients] and wouldn’t prohibit them in the future from accessing the citizenship process, but wouldn’t give them a pathway to it specially carved out,” though he noted he was open to other suggestions.

But this would not solve any of the problems with the old DREAM Act that Sen. Rubio raised. Regardless of whether the family members of DREAM Act recipients get immediate citizenship or are offered special visas, they will still be able to work and be educated in the United States while millions of people wait in line to come here legally. This is amnesty, plain and simple. Furthermore, this proposal, like the old DREAM Act, would create incentives for illegal immigration, because most illegal immigrants come here for jobs and/or government benefits, not for citizenship.

Nor would this proposal entirely solve the chain migration problem. Sen. Rubio hasn’t said so explicitly, but presumably his plan would prevent illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from sponsoring their family members until they got citizenship. However, in order for these young illegal immigrants to be eligible for the DREAM Act, their families would have to have been breaking our immigration laws for years. Making DREAM Act recipients wait a few extra years before they can sponsor their family members will not solve the chain migration problem unless we also crack down on illegal immigration.

If Rubio really wants to solve the chain migration problem, he should introduce a Senate version of Rep. Phil Gingrey’s (R-GA) Nuclear Family Priority Act, which would end chain migration altogether.