During a decade of trying to pass the DREAM Act, its supporters have continuously hit a brick wall. Since 2001, the DREAM Act has been shot down 13 times.
Advocates have tried every trick in the book. With the hope of slipping it past unsuspecting critics, the DREAM Act has occasionally been buried in part of broader legislation but without success. Even when the DREAM Act deck was heavily stacked in its favor as it was during last year's lame duck session, the result was the same -- no sale.
And yet... although Capitol Hill experts from both sides of the political aisle agree that the legislation has no chance of passing during the current immigration enforcement-minded Congress, the DREAM Act was re-introduced last month by its most tenacious Democratic Senate allies, Richard Durbin, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer.
The DREAM Act playbook is unchanged. Recent high school or university graduates with impeccable academic and personal resumes are paraded in front of Congress with the inference that all illegal alien students excel and accordingly deserve deep tuition discounts. Religious groups and ethnic identity lobbyists suggest that defeating the DREAM Act, and thus potentially denying the United States' fastest growing minority an advanced education, would doom America to an uncertain future.
Throughout the 10-year battle against the DREAM Act, Americans have remained firm in their resolve against it. The DREAM Act is an amnesty, rewards illegal behavior and encourages more immigration. Taxpayers continue to be angry that, despite the multiple messages sent to Congress that have blocked the DREAM Act, the fight is on again.
Consider Maryland's case. In April, the state legislature narrowly passed its own DREAM Act version. Scheduled to take effect on July 1, Maryland's law would allow illegal aliens who could prove they attended a state high school for three years and whose parents have paid taxes would qualify for in-state tuition rates at universities, colleges and community colleges. According to Maryland's Department of Legislative Services, by 2016 the state would have to fund an additional $3.5 million annually to provide aliens advanced education. Since taxpayers are already on the hook for illegal immigrants' K-12 public education, more expenditures have outraged the public.
Maryland can ill-afford more debt. In an effort to balance its $2.5 billion fiscal year 2011 budget deficit, Gov. Martin O'Malley has cut more than 3,500 state jobs. Even so, O'Malley supports providing more generous services to aliens.
For many Maryland residents, the legislative process that bypassed voters and added debt during a budget crisis so that illegal immigrants could pay lower college tuition rates was the last straw. Taxpayers organized a petition drive to collect signatures that would put the Maryland DREAM Act on the November 2012 statewide ballot. To date, more than twice the necessary signatures have been secured. This has forced the DREAM Act's July starting date to be suspended.
Once the Maryland DREAM Act reaches voters, and its opponents must first overcome an American Civil Liberties Union challenge and heavy lobbying by the Roman Catholic Church and others, it will likely be defeated.
Despite claims to the contrary made by federal and state officials, the DREAM Act is bad law. Americans want tighter enforcement and an end to illegal immigrant entitlements of which the DREAM Act is a prime example.
Joe Guzzardi is a syndicated columnist and Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). He can be reached at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org.