We already knew that right-wingers have by and large become conscienceless liars -- that, after all, is what keeps sites like this one in business. But the lying about the DREAM Act as a Senate vote nears has been quite remarkable,
December 3, 2010

We already knew that right-wingers have by and large become conscienceless liars -- that, after all, is what keeps sites like this one in business. But the lying about the DREAM Act as a Senate vote nears has been quite remarkable, really.

The most outrageous instance, of course, is the revelation that William Gheen's nativist ALIPAC outfit (recently featured on Fox and Friends) was caught encouraging their would-be phone callers to lie about their residential status when they called Congress members to lobby against the DREAM Act. (See Andrea Nill at the Wonk Room for more.)

Then there was Sen. Jeff Sessions last night on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, where he was of course permitted (indeed encouraged) to trot out the usual right-wing canards against the DREAM Act without challenge, including this:

HANNITY: All right. You sent out a press release, you're urging colleagues to oppose Dream Act amnesty. Why do you call it amnesty? And let's go into some detail on this.

SESSIONS: Because, Sean, it puts the applicants who qualify for this standard on a guaranteed path to citizenship. All they have to do is really just attend college for two years. They do not have to have a degree. Only a sliver of those will use the military. Ninety percent plus would use the college type and degree program to gain this amnesty. And it would deal with a million, two million individuals, up to age 30. It's just not the right policy. It would in fact just be -- be just the opposite of what message we should be sending, which is that we're going to end the lawlessness at the border and create a lawful system of immigration and stop rewarding illegal immigration.


HANNITY: All right. They're claiming this bill would only grant amnesty to children of illegal immigrants who join the military or attend college for two years. You're claiming that this would grant nearly unrestricted amnesty. Why is there such a conflicting view of what the bill says? Are they misrepresenting the bill?

SESSIONS: No -- well, what version of it? But if fundamentally all you have to do is sign up at a community college, even a correspondence course and understand it for two years, and claim you want to attend college basically, and want to get a degree, and that's all you have to do. You do not have to have a degree. Very few people are going to use the military option. Probably less than five percent, three percent, two percent. Most of them will use this education option to try to gain legal status, and you can do it up to age 30. Once a person is then legalized, they're able to legalize their brothers, who may have been the person who brought them here illegally. They can bring in other people from outside the country. And so these bills, there's so many different versions of it, but are just unwise. And also, one terribly dangerous thing is, an individual can just assert, once they're subject to deportation, that they're working on their degree and claim the benefits of the Dream Act, and really gum up the entire legal system. It would be a major detriment to enforcement.

This is just a flood of flat-out falsehoods. As a National Immigration Forum fact sheet [PDF file] explains:

Hyperbole about “floodgates” is just that—hyperbole. The DREAM Act is a limited remedy for students who can prove several key elements, including the fact that they have good moral character, graduate from a high school, or receive a GED in the U.S., go to college or join the military.

Around 800,000 students could ultimately benefit under the DREAM Act, and even if those students jump through numerous hoops and become U.S. citizens, they can never sponsor distant family members—such as uncles and cousins. Immigration law doesn’t allow it.

Most of the parents of DREAM Act beneficiaries will also be ineligible to adjust their immigration status. Students who fulfill all of the requirements prescribed in the DREAM Act may eventually (after years) apply to become U.S. citizens. If they meet the requirements and become citizens, like other U.S. citizens, they can petition for their parents when they turn 21. However, if their parents originally entered the country without being inspected by an immigration officer, they will not be eligible to get relief. While parents who entered without inspection may apply for an immigrant visa at a consulate abroad, they will likely be barred from entering the U.S. for ten years if they have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for over six months.

As Jackie Mahendra at America's Voice puts it:

In truth, the DREAM Act is a narrowly-tailored and traditionally bipartisan piece of legislation that ensures that only those with strong moral character qualify. As such, it would strengthen the military, bolster future economic competitiveness, and offer American taxpayers a return on their investment in hard-working immigrant kids who want to give back to the nation they love and call home.

There is a wide gulf between extremists like Sessions and sensible Americans who recognize the importance of DREAM. In fact, 70% of the American people support the DREAM Act.

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