When President Trump put an end to the illegal DACA program, he placed in jeopardy (though not immediately) approximately 780,000 illegal immigrants who had relied on the program to obtain lawful status. At the same time, Trump signaled that he wants Congress permanently to remove these individuals from jeopardy by passing legislation granting them the status they enjoy under DACA. Given the illegality of DACA, such legislation is, in fact, the only way permanently to protect them.
Democrats and pro-amnesty Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham have seized upon the president’s invitation to protect DACA participants as a pretext for granting status to a much larger number of illegal immigrants. This class of illegals goes by the label “Dreamers.”
The vehicle for accomplishing this much broader amnesty is the “Dream Act” proposed by Sen. Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin. Doing his best to hide the ball, Durbin stated at a press conference:
We’re aiming at the DACA population, which is 780,000, but Dream Act leaves that open.
That’s rubbish. If Durbin and Graham were “aiming at the DACA population,” they would confine their bill to that cohort. The Dream Act “leaves that open” because it is aiming to grant amnesty to a much larger population.
How much larger? For those like Durbin and Graham who favor extremely broad amnesty, it’s a simple case of “the more, the merrier.” For those who want to protect individuals who entered the DACA program in good faith, but who don’t want to amnesty for millions more, a better answer is required.
Durbin has none, at least not that he’s willing to share. At the same press conference, he said:
I don’t know that we have numbers. We can tell you 780,000 DACA. You have got ask how many are eligible for DACA today that didn’t apply, and I don’t know what that number is. I really don’t. It is going to be more than 780,000, but I don’t know what it is.
John Binder and Neil Munro of Breitbart are more helpful. They cite the pro-amnesty Migration Policy Institute which has estimated that 3.3 million illegal immigrants would be eligible to obtain amnesty under the Dream Act. This number includes 1.8 million who would become eligible for amnesty immediately and 1.5 million who “may become eligible in the future.”
The 1.5 million figure consists mostly of high school dropouts who could become eligible for amnesty by enrolling in — not passing, just entering — a high school education course. It also includes a few hundred thousand children who could apply when the get older.
These numbers don’t take into account chain migration. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that amnesty for just the DACA population “would result in a surge of potentially double that number of chain migration immigrants” — i.e., roughly 1.5 million people Amnesty for the much larger Dream Act population would, of course, produce a surge of many million more.
Mexicans make up the vast majority of DACA beneficiaries, and presumably of “Dreamers.” According to the CIS report, Mexico has the highest rate of chain migration. Indeed, the most recent five-year cohort of immigrants studied (1996-2000) showed that each new Mexican immigrant sponsored 6.38 additional legal immigrants.
No wonder, Dick Durbin doesn’t want to talk about numbers.
President Trump and congressional Republicans cannot mirror Durbin’s (no doubt feigned) indifference. They should insist that amnesty be limited to the DACA cohort and that it be accompanied by enhanced security and enforcement mechanisms to offset the tendency any amnesty has to encourage illegal entry to the U.S.
If Democrats won’t agree to this deal, the DACA beneficiaries should lose their new status and return to the one they had before President Obama illegally ordered the DACA amnesty.