DREAM 2.0? Krikorian vs. Coulter

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Krikorian vs. Coulter: I have no inside info, but you’d think Team Romney must be having a fierce internal debate right about now over whether or not to endorse a modified, limited version of the so-called DREAM Act, which would offer a route to citizenship for  illegal immigrants who came into the country when they were minors.  Romney could do worse than stage a debate between Mark Krikorian–who thinks a tightly-written DREAM 2.0 might make sense if coupled with the major border-control improvements the ‘enforcement first” approach requires– and Ann Coulter, who doesn’t think such proposal would even help Romney politically.

Here are some policy (not political) arguments  for and against:


1) It could deprive the amnesty movement of its poster children. For years, advocates of  “comprehensive” amnesty didn’t want to push a more limited law legalizing only the most appealing cases, those who came to this country as minors.  The DREAM kids were held hostage by their own allies, who hoped the kids’ stories would provide cover for an across-the-board amnesty applying to millions of less appealing beneficiaries (e.g. people who snuck in as adults). Only when a general amnesty was defeated were the DREAMers allowed to plead their special case.

Maybe the amnesty advocates were right the first time–and a Krikorian-style deal would give us effective border control while draining the” comprehensive” movement of its best PR fuel;

2) The smoke-out factor: Romney doesn’t have to worry much that Krikorian’s package will be embraced by Democrats–they’ll probably balk at the new enforcement provisions, like mandatory use of the “E-Verify” system of making sure workers are legal when they are hired, as well as Krikorian’s insistence that the DREAM kids not be able to turn around and legalize their parents and other relatives.

 That would smoke out the Dem’s suspected real position: they don’t really want enforcement after all.

If Dems’ didn’t balk, then we’d have in place enforcement mechanisms that Obama might veto if presented in a stand-alone bill.


1) Don’t kid yourself: Pro-amnesty types, aided by the MSM, will always come up with more sob stories moving individual accounts of those left un-legalized by a DREAM act;

2) They’ll dream on: Giving in to sentimentalist PR would establish a really bad precedent. We don’t need to convince legalizers that if they get the press on their side and make enough noise about the Latino vote they’ll win.  That will just encourage them to try to win more. After all, the same political consultants who are now urging Romney to throw the DREAM bone to Hispanic voters will be urging him to throw more bones in future elections once DREAM has been done.  Business interests like the Chamber of Commerce won’t be satisfied with  DREAM either.

To actually reform immigration (and, ironically, eventually regularize those illegals already here) we have to first kill the dream underlying much of the pro-legalization movement, namely the dream of unending illegal-but-later-legalized immigration.  Any new amnesty, even a partial one, will at least initially keep that dream alive, while legal advocacy organizations and the Chamber busy themselves getting courts to gut the new enforcement measures;

3) Monster magnet: There is no more powerful government-created “magnet” for potential illegal immigrant adults than the thought that their children will be able to grow up as Americans. Krikorian’s enforcement measures may be able to counteract this magnet effect. But why not just enact those measures, and wait, before complicating the picture? Would Obama really veto a stand-alone “E-Verify” bill, for example?

I think it’s not an easy call–complicated, from my perspective, by the conviction that, if you really care about preventing a misguided general immigration amnesty, you probably want Obama, not Romney, to win the election.  Romney’s an unknown quantity.  Obama is 100% pro-amnesty, but there is also a near-100% chance that he won’t be able to get such a law through a GOP-dominated Congress. Yes, he can’t!

Update.: On second thought, there’s also a great danger that all of Krikorian’s nuanced conditions would quickly be lost if Romney embraces any kind of DREAM compromise in the middle of a campaign.. Obama would claim that if Romney endorses it, then why is he throwing up unreasonable roadblocks? Just like those crazy Congressional Republicans! We know whose side the MSM would take. Romney would have to be unusually effective in explaining the importance of E-Verify, the border fence, the need to curtail “chain migration” (before his advisers urge him to cave on those issues).  In the process he’d risk turning off the very people his DREAM concession was designed to appease. … And an endorsement of any form of DREAM from Romney–make that “even Romney”–would put it on the legislative assembly line in the next Congress, assuming the Democrats make any kind of gains. …

We have a conclusion: Krikorian’s idea might be a reasonable compromise for Republicans to propose, but doing it as part of the presidential campaign seems too risky. …

Mickey Kaus