Center For Immigration Studies Wary Of Dream Act

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, believes the Dream Act could garner broad-based support, but only if safeguards are put in place to prevent the act from incentivizing illegal immigration.

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TONY COX, host:

Another viewpoint on this now from Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He is with me in the studio. Welcome, Mark.

Mr. MARK KRIKORIAN (Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies): Well, thanks for having me.

COX: First question: Where do you stand on the DREAM Act which, by the way, is a pathway to citizenship for people, intended to help illegal immigrants who came to this country as children. They finished high school and want to attend college or to join the military. So, where do you stand on that act and what do you say to people like Gaby and others who are in the same situation?

Mr. KRIKORIAN: Well, clearly, illegal immigrants in this position are the most sympathetic group of illegals because since they were brought here as kids, by definition, they didn't break the immigration law. I mean, they're legally incapable of having violated the law because they were minors. So I think there's a good case to be made that this is a subset of the illegal immigrant population that we can do something for.

The problem is the DREAM Act, as it exists now, is incomplete. It's just an amnesty. It legalizes these kids without dealing with the problems that an amnesty can create. And so there are two things the DREAM Act would need to make it complete. One, mandatory electronic verification of new hires, to turn off the magnet of jobs so that future parents don't put their kids in this situation by being tempted to come here illegally.

And, secondly, the adults responsible for putting these kids in this situation must not be allowed to benefit from this amnesty. And what we need then is to get rid of some of the family immigration categories, the chain migration categories that would be used by relatives to benefit from this amnesty.

COX: Well, do you think that these safeguards that you are talking about that you would like to see in place, do you think that that would get broad-based support in Congress, a bill that would include that?

Mr. KRIKORIAN: Maybe. I think it would. I mean, now, I'm not I don't do lobbying on Capitol Hill. I'm just speaking for myself. This isn't some secret message from, you know, from some congressional caucus. But I think it would because, look, this is the most sympathetic group of illegal immigrants. That's why the supporters of a broader, more comprehensive amnesty use these kids as props. I mean, that's essentially they're being used to make the case for an amnesty for all the illegal immigrants, not just these kids.

And that tension has actually been coming out in public that the DREAM activists and the Washington-based supporters of a broader amnesty have really been at each other's throats. And it's gotten public because the kids like Gaby and others are saying, look, you people like the National Immigration Forum and the National Council of La Raza and others, are using us and we're not getting anything out of it. You've consistently failed. We need to try to get our status legalized. And so, there's been some real animosity there.

COX: Because there is such complications - there are such complications surrounding the whole idea of immigration reform, and there are many ways to attack it. From your standpoint, what would be the best first step?

Mr. KRIKORIAN: Well, you mean generally speaking, not just with regard to the DREAM Act.

COX: Yes.

Mr. KRIKORIAN: The best first step would be to require all new hire, all businesses to check their new hires electronically. The system is called E-Verify. It already exists. It's an online thing. It's free. And what it does is when somebody gets hired, instead of the employer just taking their word for who they are, they actually check the Social Security number and the name. It's a very important tool in turning the magnet of jobs off. And it's kind of the lowest hanging fruit the easiest, quickest thing we need to do that can actually make a difference.

COX: My final question is this. There is such a heightened sense around this issue and some people are looking at it logically, some illogically, some from a very emotional standpoint because it is personal for a lot of folks in America. And then we have situations like we have in Fremont, Nebraska where they passed the law just yesterday that's going to make it very difficult for Latinos to be there.

My question is whether or not the climate that currently exists in this country will allow us, in your opinion, to actually get some movement, some meaningful movement.

Mr. KRIKORIAN: Well, I have to say, I think the reason the climate is so inflamed is precisely that the public doesn't trust the government to enforce the law.

In fact, regardless of what I might think about an amnesty program, I think supporters of an amnesty could make the case to a large share of the public and would be accepted if the public believes that the government would enforce future immigration laws so we wouldn't end up with another 11 million illegal aliens. That trust does not exist and that is the government's fault that that trust doesn't exist.

COX: Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, joining me in our studios here in Washington, D.C. Mr. Krikorian, thank you very much.

Mr. KRIKORIAN: Glad to be here.

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