The DREAM Political Scheme

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on December 13, 2010

The Washington Post's resident apologist for mass amnesty and open borders has written about how he thinks Republican opposition to the DREAM Act amnesty is a strategic political mistake for the party if the GOP wishes to increase its share of the Latino vote.

It should strain the credulity of even the most blindly optimistic Republican – be he a Bush or a Rove – that the Post's Edward Schumacher-Matos has the GOP's best interests at heart. His ethnic-identity-laced analysis typifies brow-beating rather than concerned advice.

No, every lawmaker, regardless of party, should approach the DREAM Act on the merits of the legislation. And the DREAM Act suffers from multiple shortcomings. Here are just a few:

  • Sen. Jeff Sessions has identified the bill's invitation to massive fraud and abuse, its loopholes, and its risks of giving criminal aliens immunity.

  • CIS has estimated the bill's cost to American taxpayers as at least $6 billion a year in college tuition alone. The Congressional Budget Office puts DREAM's costs as high as $20 billion.

  • The legislation does nothing to hold accountable the illegal parents who purportedly brought DREAMers here. Nor does it contain anything to offset the damage necessarily inflicted by any amnesty. For instance, the chain migration visa categories of distant relatives could be eliminated along with their share of overall immigration.

In short, DREAM is all dessert and no vegetables for its beneficiaries.

Pushing the DREAM Act in the lame-duck session amounts to nothing more than raw identity politics. If this were serious legislating, then subcommittee and committee hearings would be held, markup sessions to amend the bill in committee would occur, and lawmakers could further amend the legislation on the Senate and House floors in a legitimate debate. These haven't happened.

In fact, the lame-duck Democrat leadership in Congress has deliberately restricted any chance of actual debate and lawmaking. Legislators are given a choice of an up-or-down vote on this version of the bill, as is. That's hardly American-style deliberation; it's more like the "choice" voters had in the old Soviet Union.

If Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama intended to be fair-minded on how to deal with this subset of the illegal alien population, they would at a minimum adopt Mark Krikorian's thoughtful suggestions to tighten up the bill.

Given DREAM's politicization, ethnic politics doesn't present a very promising game for the GOP. That's because Republicans generally believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility. It would prove difficult, if not impossible, for the GOP to outbid Democrats with government giveaways and redistributionist programs, as a means of enticing ethnic voting blocs.

As University of Maryland political scientist James Gimpel noted at a CIS panel just before the elections:

If present forecasts are right for this time, it is true that Hispanic percentages for Republicans might increase this fall above the customary 30 to 35 percent that the GOP can usually count on. But that's probably because lots of Hispanic Democrats will fail to show up. That's different than converting them to the GOP side. Getting a little higher percentage because lots of Latino Democrats fail to show up because they aren't enthusiastic this year is totally different than converting Latinos to the Republican side.

The DREAM Act debate this round amounts to political manipulation. Advocates whose main purpose is to wield a salient wedge issue seek to play emotional games with the Hispanic community. The congressional types pushing DREAM hope this will actuate Latinos to turn out in the next election – giving Democrats their usual 2-to-1-plus advantage with Hispanics.

The best interests of the GOP (and of Hispanic Americans and, in fact, of the United States) lie in getting real control over and reduction of illegal immigration and promoting assimilation through significantly lower legal immigration. The party's goal should be to make the Latino vote become as widely distributed and thus as inconsequential -- as a voting bloc -- as the Irish or Italian or Polish vote is today.

Topics: DREAM Act