Michael Gerson makes a terrific case for why Republicans should sign on to the Dream Act in the waning days of this Congress. But, of course, most Republicans don’t want to go anywhere near the legislation for fear of being accused of providing amnesty to illegal aliens. In fact, most of what has been called amnesty over the past several years — including proposed legislation supported by the Bush administration in 2006 and 2007 — was not. The so-called amnesty plans required heavy fines for those who had entered or remained in the country illegally, along with a host of other legal hurdles that petitioners would have to jump over.
But the Dream Act is amnesty — of the most worthy kind. As Gerson explains, here’s what the Dream Act does:
The legislation would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have gotten a GED. They would be given a conditional legal status for six years, in which they must complete two years of college or serve at least two years in the military. If they failed to meet the requirements — or committed a crime (other than a non-drug-related misdemeanor) — they would lose their legal status and could be deported. If they succeeded, they would be granted a green card and could apply for citizenship.
We have no intention of ever deporting kids who’ve grown up in the United States, played by all the rules, and want to better themselves and serve the only nation they’ve ever known — sending them to countries they don’t remember and whose language they may not even speak. So why not quit playing games and pass this humane piece of legislation? The chances for passage will diminish in January as even more immigration restrictionists take their seats — Republicans ought to welcome this opportunity to get it done now when they don’t have to take all the blame. It won’t be popular with some on the right — but it’s the right thing to do.