Rep. West Calls Sen. Durbin's DREAM Act Hearing "Reprehensible," "Almost Treasonous"
Speaking to a TeaParty.net-sponsored tele-townhall last night hosted by conservative radio host Rusty Humphries, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) attacked a recent DREAM Act hearing in the Senate as "reprehensible" and complained that elected officials such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) were being "almost treasonous" by inviting undocumented children and young adults to attend the hearing.
WEST: You know, it was absolutely reprehensible to me that Senator Dick Durbin would, you know, invite illegal immigrants into the Senate chamber, doing a hearing, and start talking about "these are going to be our future leaders and maybe a future president." You know, what is he talking about? And so when you hear those type of things coming out of quote, unquote, elected officials and leaders, to me, that's almost treasonous to say that you're not going to stand up and protect the American people, stand by our Constitution, secure our borders and you know, the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people should go to benefit the American people.
West seems to be really confused. The DREAM Act is not an amnesty scheme meant to reward those who willfully came to the country illegally. It is, as the National Immigration Law Center describes, legislation under which "most students who came to the U.S. at age 15 or younger at least five years before the date of the bill's enactment and who have maintained good moral character since entering the U.S. would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school, or being awarded a GED in the U.S." Only after several years would those who benefit from the legislation be allowed to apply for citizenship.
The idea of providing a path to citizenship for children who were brought to the country — many of whom didn't know of their immigration status until much later in life — shouldn't really be that controversial. In fact, it was originally proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in 2001, and in recent years Hatch has said that "if they've lived good lives, if they've done good things, why would we penalize them and not let them at least go to school?" (As a result of Tea Party backlash in his state, Hatch has recently abandoned the DREAM Act and voted against its passage last year.)
Allen West himself seemed to endorse the logic behind the DREAM Act during his campaign for Congress. During a speech in early 2010, West railed against illegal immigration but approvingly quoted President Theodore Roosevelt's statement that "we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin."
Roosevelt's statement is exactly the sentiment behind the DREAM Act. Those who stand to benefit from the legislation did not come to the country in bad faith and the DREAM Act is intended to help tens of thousands of people who are already assimilated to American society get out of legal limbo. As Durbin has said, "the DREAM Act will give thousands of young people across America that chance to become a part of America's future."
It's unfortunate that Allen West doesn't realize the tremendous benefit that the DREAM Act would have for the military and the country as a whole. He's too busy accusing those working on meaningful legislation of committing treason.