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On the February 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity falsely claimed that "only liberals could think of" offering "in-state tuition breaks to people that are here illegally." Hannity stated that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants to give in-state tuition breaks to people that are here illegally." Hannity then stated: "So you enter the country. You don't respect our laws of sovereignty. But you get the in-state tuition price. That's brilliant. ... [O]nly liberals could think of this." But several conservative Republicans in Congress have supported what Pelosi was reportedly advocating: legislation that would allow states to offer discounted in-state tuition to illegal immigrants if they chose to do so.
Hannity appeared to be referring to Pelosi's appearance at a February 20 town hall-style meeting and news conference at Arizona State University where, according to a February 20 Arizona Republic article, Pelosi "tout[ed] congressional Democrats' push to make college more affordable for young people, including those without legal residency." According to a February 20 Arizona Daily Star article, Pelosi specifically expressed support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. In its most recent Senate version (page 622), the DREAM Act would retroactively repeal a current federal law that forbids states from giving those "not lawfully present in the United States" in-state tuition unless the state also gives in-state tuition to all U.S. citizens or nationals regardless of residence. The DREAM Act would also create a process for granting undocumented students who want to attend college a six-year conditional permanent resident status. In order to be eligible, illegal immigrants need to have been continuously in the United States for at least five years prior to the act's enactment, have initially entered the country before they were 16 years old, and have earned a high school diploma or the equivalent while in the United States.
Contrary to Hannity's claim that "only liberals could think of this," many conservatives have supported the DREAM Act. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was the lead sponsor of the 2003 Senate version, which was co-sponsored by 47 other senators, including Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as many Democrats. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and several other Republicans co-sponsored the 2005 Senate version of the act. A 2006 House version attracted 54 co-sponsors, including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), currently listed as a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
The DREAM Act was also included (page 622) in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which passed the Senate in late May of 2006. Although Hatch voted against that bill, he reiterated his support for the DREAM Act in his floor statement: "There are many laudable aspects of this bill," he said, including, "as many believe, the DREAM Act, upon which we worked so hard through the years."
From the February 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Hey, your pal Nancy Pelosi, by the way, is --
ALAN COLMES (co-host): She is my pal, thank you.
HANNITY -- wants to give in-state tuition breaks to people that are here illegally. Did you know that?
COLMES: Yeah. Good.
HANNITY: So you enter the country. You don't respect our laws of sovereignty. But you get the in-state tuition price. That's brilliant.
COLMES: First of all, you have a bunch of people in Congress in both parties who refuse to --
HANNITY: That is -- only liberals could think of this.
COLMES: I believe I was talking.
COLMES: But they don't --
HANNITY: I wasn't listening. Go ahead.
COLMES: You might learn something. You ought to try. The fact is, unless we have a pathway for some people to actually --
HANNITY: Alan --
COLMES: -- you want to deport everybody?
HANNITY: If you're here illegally --
HANNITY: -- you don't get in-state tuition breaks on tuition. That's called you broke the law, you should be punished for breaking the law, and you shouldn't get the advantage -- advantages of citizenship.
COLMES: And we deport everybody who's here illegally?
HANNITY: Alan, this is a silly question.
COLMES: You see, but they -- you've got to come up with a solution and a pathway for these people to stay in this country.
HANNITY: Yes. I do. If you came here illegally, go back to the country you came from, and then try to come here legally.