Today, the Washington Post posted a piece by former Bush aide Michael Gerson in which he states, “the Dream Act is effective at stripping away pretense.” Gerson writes, “The Dream Act would be a potent incentive for assimilation. But for some, assimilation clearly is not the goal. They have no intention of sharing the honor of citizenship with anyone called illegal – even those who came as children, have grown up as neighbors and would be willing to give their lives in the nation’s cause.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is one of those people. Ever since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that he would introduce the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, Sessions has been leading the GOP’s attack against it with lies, misinformation, and fear.
Sessions latest allegation is that the DREAM Act contains loopholes for terrorists. In a floor speech yesterday afternoon, Sessions claimed that the DREAM Act would open the door to immigration fraud by “dangerous” Middle Easterners:
Those who commit document fraud or who lie to immigration authorities will be eligible for the immigration amnesty as well. This is particularly troubling as it contains a potential loophole for high risk individuals placed on a pathway to citizenship. One of the warning signs that we missed prior to 9/11 were the fraudulent visa applications submitted by the 9/11 hijackers. This bill would likely make it more difficult to combat immigration fraud from the dangerous regions of the Middle East where we’ve had an unfortunate history of abuse.
First of all, Sessions doesn’t seem to know much about how the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. A few of the 9/11 hijackers came to the U.S. with fraudulently manipulated passports and three violated immigration law by failing to file applications to change their immigration status from tourist to student upon entering flight school. The 9/11 Report explains that these violations went largely undetected largely because, before 2001, “the U.S. immigration system “focused primarily on keeping individuals intending to immigrate from improperly entering the United States.” Professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law Patrick Young explains that “[b]efore 9/11 people applying for a non-immigrant visa, particularly those from wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, were treated very differently from those trying to immigrate.” While a Mexican would have had to provide biometric information and undergo a long background check, “Saudis were not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other non-immigrants.”
Of course that has all changed and the DREAM Act largely reflects the post-9/11 approach to immigration. Under the newest version of the DREAM Act, an individual could obtain “conditional nonimmigrant” status only after that person proves that he or she meets the necessary requirements. As part of that process, DREAM Act applicants will have to establish that they have been a person of “good moral character,” as determined by the Department of Homeland Security, from the date the individual initially entered the U.S. Applicants must also submit biometric information, undergo security and law-enforcement background checks, and a medical examination. It’s also worth noting that qualifying individuals must have entered the U.S. as a child (15 or under) and lived in the U.S. for at least five years at the time of the bill’s passage. To put it plainly, given all of these stringent requisites, it’s hard to imagine that any potential terrorist would be dumb enough to try taking advantage of the DREAM Act and, if they did, they would likely be caught.
In fact, the DREAM Act would help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focus on those individuals who do pose a threat to national security. Last week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explained that by granting young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to regularize their status, DHS will be able to “prioritize to an even greater extent the enforcement of our immigration laws” and “further target our efforts against those who are culpable.”