Graham Declares DREAM Act Dead On Arrival

Lindsey Graham Says He Wants Immigration Reform ‘Done Right,’ Declares DREAM Act Dead On Arrival

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that a vote on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would likely take place after Thanksgiving. Before the holiday weekend was even over, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) didn’t hesitate to declare the DREAM Act dead on arrival. On Fox News Sunday, Graham stuck to the GOP’s enforcement-only party line:

From this discussion, the one thing I can tell you is not going to happen is the DREAM Act. She’s [Sen. Claire McCaskill] talking about voting against comprehensive immigration reform — I support it done right. Why would you give legal citizenship to 2 million people without securing the border first?

Watch it:

Graham voted against the DREAM Act in 2007, so it’s not a huge surprise that he’s against it now. However, that doesn’t excuse his distorted justification.

To begin with, the DREAM Act wouldn’t grant anyone citizenship. Instead, it would allow some young undocumented immigrants who fulfill the necessary education or military requirements and undergo a background check to obtain legal residency. To become a citizen, they would have to go through the naturalization process that all immigrants who seek citizenship must complete.

Furthermore, a study by the Migration Policy Institute revealed that although slightly more than 2.1 million undocumented immigrant youth could be eligible to apply for legal status under the DREAM Act, only 38% — or 825,000 — of them would likely gain permanent legal status.

Finally, though Graham has supported immigration reform in the past, he and his party are largely responsible for blocking it in 2010. Apparently Graham’s idea of immigration reform “done right” amounts to holding it hostage to health care reformpitting it against climate change legislation, and then turning his back on it altogether and declaring his support forchanging the 14th amendment to deny the U.S.-born children of immigrants citizenship.

Andrea NillWith that said, Graham’s exchange with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) — who is neither a champion of immigration reform nor the DREAM Act — highlighted the fact that Democrats are not unanimously in favor of pro-immigrant policies. Though the majority of the Democratic Party supports immigration reform proposals, as long as lawmakers like McCaskill are opposed, so-called “moderate” Republicans like Graham are needed to get those pieces of legislation over the finish line.

Andrea Christina Nill

Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room.

About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.

Comments

  1. If these illegal aliens are “undocumented immigrants,” then I am an undocumented surgeon. In fact, I am the undocumented President of the US.

  2. Paul McDermott says:

    Annette has gotten all wrapped up in this latest hot-button issue of “maternity tourism,” coming to this country to take advantage of our superior health care and “stealing our resources.” Before it was “welfare moms,” pumping out babies so they could increase their welfare checks.

    Her long screed missed the whole point of passing the Dream Act, which would give citizenship to those young undocumented people who have something to offer this country.

    • My long screed doesn’t miss the point; you simply don’t want to recognize the truth. There are millions of people around the world who have something to offer our country. These would-be recipients of amnesty from the Dream Act should NOT be a priority over all of the other people wanting and waiting to be American citizens. Just because their parents broke the law doesn’t mean that these young people should be allowed to jump to the head of the immigration line.

      Once again, liberals wanting to do something “nice” are letting their naivete blind them to the damage these bad policies cause. Once the Dream kids get a college degree in an American university they’ll be competing with American citizens for jobs and advanced college degrees. For every Dream citizenship recipient that goes on to do an advanced degree, some other American gets squeezed out of that opportunity. When these kids take jobs from the rest of us, it helps the companies trying to drive down our middle class wages, and it helps the illegal immigrants, but it hurts our country and our current workforce.

      A 2010 report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform states that illegal immigration costs approximately $113 billion per year. According to FAIR, around $84 billion of that cost is shared by state and local agencies, with approximately $52 billion a year being spent on public education of either illegal aliens or the children of unauthorized immigrants. So now that we’ve paid for the education of these young undocumented people, we’re supposed to reward them and their parents with citizenship ahead of others waiting to immigrate here? After becoming citizens, the youth can sponsor their parents to become citizens as well. That means the Dream Act, like the three other massive amnesty giveaways in the past 50 years, is simply one more inducement to encourage even more foreigners to become illegal aliens here. That’s bad policy, and the Dream Act shouldn’t be passed.

  3. Andrea, this is incorrect:

    “…changing the 14th amendment to deny the U.S.-born children of immigrants citizenship.”

    The purpose of changing the Fourteenth Amendment is NOT to deny citizenship to children of immigrants, it’s to stop encouraging foreigners who sneak into the country or just visit the country to have babies here. Children of LEGAL immigrants would still receive citizenship.

    There are “maternity tourism” companies that advertise all over Asia, Central America and South America selling foreigners the opportunity to fly here while pregnant so their baby will be an American citizen. They have testimonials by parents who have bought this “travel service” in order to have a baby that can access American financial resources. Hawaii, California and southern border states are targeted “vacation” destinations for these pregnant women, and resorts with on-site or nearby birthing clinics even exist. The advertising for this “service” in Latin American countries also focuses on the benefits of the child being able to sponsor the parents to immigrate before the millions of others on the waiting list to become Americans.

    Even without these well organized, profitable “maternity tourism” businesses, people all over the world know that if they get here while pregnant, and have their baby here, their kid is automatically an American citizen, entitled to all of the freebie benefits they want, from medical care to free college and even Social Security, even though their parents never paid a dime into the system.

    Once the “instant citizen” is born, the parent(s) can go back to their country of origin where it’s cheaper to raise their kid. In their own country, they don’t have those pesky taxes that Americans pay to fund our social support systems, even though their “instant citizen” child can access all of our tax funded programs. For instance, if their kid becomes disabled, he or she can receive lifetime support from our Social Security system, even though the parents and the “instant citizen” never paid into the American SS system. When the kids grow up, they will be prioritized for college acceptance because of their nefariously gained US citizenship, and they can even get free public support to pay for college!

    The same thing happens on an even costlier scale when illegal aliens sneak into our country and have kids. Americans are routinely stuck paying for their birth (our insurance and medical costs go up to compensate for every non-paying illegal alien woman who has a birth in our hospitals). Then we can get stuck paying for the “instant citizen” baby’s health care, medical care, foster care and on and on for the rest of their life.

    If we want to help poor people around the world, encouraging them to break into this country to steal our resources is NOT the way to do it. Birthright citizenship is simply BAD POLICY. It was designed hundreds of years ago when people couldn’t travel easily from country to country. Now you can fly to the US, pop out a baby, and instantly access all benefits of citizenship. When people demand we not change the birthright citizenship rule, they’re saying we should continue to let anyone in the world cheat us out of our resources simply by breaking our rules. Worse, by allowing, even encouraging foreigners to steal from us this way and forcing the US taxpayers to foot the bill, we create animosity toward valuable immigrants.

    There is no good reason for keeping the birthright citizenship rule in place anymore. It’s archaic, outdated and a terrible enticement for abuse by people all around the world. It also allows people to jump ahead of the immigration line because all those babies and kids are automatically a priority over potential adult workers who could come here and actually help our country. Most of the Fourteenth Amendment is valuable and sensible, but the birthright citizen component needs to be changed.

    You seem like you care about other people, Andrea, so I hope you give some thought to why you care more about people who abuse our generosity than the ones who are trapped in poverty in other countries but who do not have the resources to come here to have a baby. I wish liberals would start caring about those people and stop pushing the cost of amnesty and open borders onto the American taxpayers.

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