(Jim Clark) – Last week I advised readers that the broad consensus at the recent Nevada GOP Central Committee meeting held in Fallon was that Sharron Angle’s campaign faltered on election day because of her media ads describing Harry Reid as being the “illegal aliens’ best friend”. Reid was able to muster otherwise unenthusiastic Latinos and get them to the polls in sufficient numbers to move the election result by 8 or 9 points in his favor from what reliable polls showed just before the election.
Not surprisingly the Washington Times just reported that Sen. Reid announced on “Al Punto”, a Spanish language television program, that he would seek to force the US Senate to vote on the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act” in the upcoming lame duck session. It looks like the politics of paying off special interests is alive and well, at least in the lame duck Congress.
The DREAM Act would give a path to citizenship to those illegal aliens who entered the US before age 16, have been in the country for at least 5 years and agree to attend college or serve in the ”uniformed services”. “Uniformed services” include the Public Health Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as the military. Citizenship would be granted on completion of 2 years of college or 2 years in a “uniformed service”.
But the fine print discloses something far broader. The mere act of applying under the DREAM Act confers lawful residence status. And you can ignore the word “minors” because applicants could be up to 35 years of age; moreover Homeland Security can even waive that for “humanitarian purposes”. Any alien gaining citizenship under the Act would be able to provide family members with lawful status and place them too on a pathway to citizenship so why bother with border security?
The Act also requires educational institutions to offer applicants in-state tuition rates despite the fact that legal aliens here on student visas do not qualify for that benefit. The “college” requirement can be met at a community or vocational college.
Last September Reid unsuccessfully tried to incorporate the DREAM Act into the Defense Authorization Bill and promised voters he would bring the Act up for a vote during his recent battle royale against Angle. Observers do not believe he has the votes to get the measure approved, even in the lame duck Senate session.
No less conservative an institution than the Wall Street Journal advises that it’s in the interests of the country for GOP legislators to find some room for compromise and that the DREAM Act is a good place to start. With Republican Latino governors-elect in Nevada and New Mexico and a charismatic GOP Latino newly elected the senator from Florida supporting the DREAM Act makes “political sense” for Republicans who will have a hard time winning national elections without more Hispanic support the Journal advises.
In a parallel move the conservative Mormon Church recently endorsed the “Utah Compact”, a document that urges states to stay out of the illegal immigration issue. Many illegal immigrants are Mormons and state prosecutions for status alone are disruptive of families, a key fixture of the Mormon faith.
So what’s a Republican to do? The Wall Street Journal makes some good points but the DREAM Act needs to be narrowed down substantially so it benefits only those minors that it’s title claims to want to benefit.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee)