Fox continues its all-out assault on the Dream Act

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

Continuing its assault on the Dream Act, Fox News has repeatedly attacked and pushed falsehoods about the bill, which would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children.

Dobbs falsely claims Dream Act "permits those who have avoided their deportation hearings ... [t]hose guilty of misdemeanors"

Dobbs: Dream Act "permits those who have avoided their deportation hearings ... [t]hose guilty of misdemeanors." On the November 23 edition of America's Newsroom, Lou Dobbs stated that the Dream Act "permits those who have avoided their deportation hearings, have avoided hearings of all sorts on immigration. Those guilty of misdemeanors, DUI -- all of that is wide open."

In fact, Dream Act requires that applicants have "good moral character" and are not "deportable for various criminal offenses." The Dream Act sets several requirements that an individual would have to meet in order to qualify for conditional permanent resident status. He or she:

  • Must have "been physically present in the United states for a continuous period of not less than 5 years" preceding enactment of the bill
  • Was not yet "16 years [old] at the time of initial entry"
  • Has been "a person of good moral character since the time of application"
  • Is not inadmissible or deportable for various criminal offenses
  • Has "been admitted to an institution of higher education" in the U.S., or has earned a high school diploma or obtained a GED in the U.S.

Senate bill specifically says illegal immigrants who are subject of deportation orders are not eligible for legal status. The Senate Dream Act bill states that an individual is eligible for conditional permanent resident status under if he or she "has never been under a final administrative of judicial order of exclusion, deportation or removal, unless the alien - (i) has remained in the United States under color of law after such an order was issued; or (ii) received the order before attaining the age of 16 years."

Wiehl dubiously claims bill provides "safe harbor for criminal aliens"

Wiehl: Dream Act provides a "safe harbor for criminal aliens, people that are actually here illegally, and then commit crimes beyond that." On the November 23 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl claimed that the Dream Act provides a "safe harbor for criminal aliens, people that are actually here illegally, and then commit crimes beyond that." Later, after host Bill O'Reilly said, "So say you're out of the military, you resign or whatever, and then you commit a crime but you've already applied. They can't kick you out," Wiehl stated, "They can't kick you out, pending the, you know, the application."

Dream Act appears to allow for termination of conditional permanent resident status if applicant fails to meet "good moral character" requirement. The House and Senate versions of the Dream Act appear to state that unauthorized immigrants who apply for and receive "conditional permanent resident status" may have their conditional status terminated if they fail to meet the requirement of having "good moral character." The bill further states that "[a]ny alien whose conditional permanent resident status is terminated" because of failure to meet certain requirements "shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act."

From both versions of the bill:

(1) In General -- Notwithstanding any other provision of law and except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security may cancel removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, subject to the conditional basis described in section 5, an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States, if the alien demonstrates that --

[...]

(B) the alien has been a person of good moral character since the time of application;

[...]

(b) TERMINATION OF STATUS. --

(1) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary of Homeland Security shall terminate the conditional permanent resident status of any alien who obtained such status under this Act, if the Secretary determines that the alien --

(A) ceases to meet the requirements of subparagraph (B) or (C) of section 4(a)(1);

(B) has become a public charge; or

(C) has received a dishonorable or other than honorable discharge from the uniformed services.

(2) RETURN TO PREVIOUS IMMIGRATION STATUS. -- Any alien whose conditional permanent resident status is terminated under paragraph (1) shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.

Immigration attorney: Those who can't prove "good moral character" are "excluded from the application procedure." David Leopold, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Media Matters in an email:

It is specious to claim that the Dream Act provides a "safe harbor for any alien, including criminals, from being removed or deported if they simply submit an application." The claim is based on a provision which prohibits the removal of any alien who has a pending Dream Act application. But the Bill also makes clear that only "eligible" aliens may apply. Criminals and others who cannot prove they have good moral character are ineligible for the Dream Act and, therefore, clearly excluded from the application procedure. The Dream Act offers them no safe harbor from deportation.

Guilfoyle says provision for "good moral character" should be included -- but it's already in the bill

Guilfoyle: "I also feel a provision of good moral character should be in there." On the November 23 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News legal analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle stated, "I also feel a provision of good moral character should be in" the Dream Act.

In fact, provision for "good moral character" already exists in bill. The Dream Act sets several requirements that an individual would have to meet in order to qualify for conditional permanent resident status, including that he or she is "a person of good moral character."

Jarrett claims Dream Act would allow some immigrants to "jump right to the front of the line"

Jarrett: "[F]or millions of illegals, the Dream Act ... would fulfill their dream of jumping right to the front of the line and becoming U.S. citizens." On the November 23 edition of America Live, Fox News host Greg Jarrett stated: "[F]or millions of illegals, the Dream Act is a propitious title because it would fulfill their dream of jumping right to the front of the line and becoming U.S. citizens."

In fact, according to IPC, Dream Act "creates a separate program for students" and does "not compete for visas with other applicants for legal permanent residence." According the Immigration Policy Center (IPC):

DREAM Act students do not compete for visas with other applicants for legal permanent residence. Instead, DREAM Act creates a separate program for students that requires them to earn legal permanent residence by attending college or serving in the military for two years while in a temporary legal status. DREAM will not affect the number of visas available or the time it takes to get a visa for those entering through traditional legal immigration.

Jarrett advances falsehood that Dream Act would give applicants U.S. citizenship "right away"

Jarrett: "Those who oppose it call it a veritable nightmare, granting amnesty right away to more than 2 million illegal immigrants." Also on the November 23 America Live, Jarrett stated: "Those who oppose it call it a veritable nightmare, granting amnesty right away to more than 2 million illegal immigrants, and in the end, maybe as many as 6 million or more illegals."

In fact, Dream Act would allow eligible immigrants to apply for "conditional permanent resident status." The versions of the Dream Act legislation pending in the House and Senate both state that eligible unauthorized immigrants could have their status adjusted to "conditional permanent resident status" which "shall be valid for a period of 6 years" and subject to termination should the individual cease to be eligible. Conditional permanent resident status is only available under the Dream Act to those who were under 16 years of age when they came to the country, have good moral character, and have earned a high school diploma/GED or been admitted to an institution of higher education.

Gallagher claims Dream Act provides in-state tuition benefits for "illegal immigrant[s]"

Gallagher claims Dream Act would provide in-state tuition benefits to "illegal immigrant[s]." On the November 23 edition of America Live, Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher said the bill would give immigrants "in-state tuition benefits," calling this "a key component of the Dream Act." Gallagher stated: "How could anyone argue that giving an 18-, 19-, 20-year-old college kid in-state tuition benefits, who's an illegal, ahead of the out-of-state kid who can't afford out-of-state tuition benefits, how is that not amnesty?" He later said: "If you are going to give an illegal immigrant in-state tuition benefits, try to tell that to a hard-working parent who wants to send their kid to a California college. It's insulting, it's demeaning, it's demoralizing."

In fact, Dream Act does not grant in-state tuition benefits to unauthorized immigrants, but rather leaves that decision to the states. In fact, the bill would affirm that states have the authority to decide who is eligible for college benefits based on residency. Section 3 of the Dream Act legislation in the House and Senate, "Restoration of state option to determine residency for purposes of higher education benefits," would repeal Section 505 of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, passed during a period of particularly high anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. As the Congressional Research Service explained in a February 3 report:

[The 1996 law] prohibits states from granting unauthorized aliens certain postsecondary educational benefits on the basis of state residence, unless equal benefits are made available to all U.S. citizens. This prohibition is commonly understood to apply to the granting of "in-state" residency status for tuition purposes.

Fox launches verbal assault on Dream Act

Gallagher's Dream Act analogy: "It would be like saying if one's parent is a bank robber, the child gets to keep the money and the proceeds from the bank robbery." On the November 23 America Live, Gallagher described the "analogy" he uses to describe the Dream Act: "The analogy I keep using ... is that we feel sorry for these children of adults who made a bad decision and broke the law to come into the United States, but it would be like saying if one's parent is a bank robber, the child gets to keep the money and the proceeds from the bank robbery. I'm sorry, most Americans don't accept this." Gallagher later said of the bill: "I don't think it's backdoor amnesty; I think it's front door amnesty."

Dobbs calls Dream Act a "show vote designed to ... pay back certain advocacy groups who have been helpful in securing a vote." On the November 23 edition of America's Newsroom, Dobbs stated that the Dream Act would "absolutely not" pass and called it a "show vote" for Democrats "designed to, if you will, pay back certain advocacy groups who have been helpful in securing a vote."

Guilfoyle: Dream Act "incentivizes illegality." On the November 23 O'Reilly Factor, Guilfoyle claimed that the Dream Act "incentivizes illegality and encourages people to essentially seek an amnesty by saying, 'Sure, I'm going to be in the military.'"

FAIR president: Dream Act is "backdoor amnesty" and "full of loopholes for fraud." On November 23, Fox & Friends hosted Dan Stein, president of the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a "hate group" -- to attack the Dream Act. Stein called the bill an "irresponsible piece of legislation" and claimed that it is a "backdoor amnesty program" that is "full of loopholes for fraud."

Recent attacks just the latest in Fox's war on the Dream Act

Kelly falsely claimed Dream Act "would basically give kids citizenship." On the November 11 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly falsely claimed that the "Dream Act would provide a path to citizenship -- or would basically give kids citizenship to those who came to this country illegally before they were 16."

Malkin falsely claimed Dream Act creates "illegal alien student preference program." On the November 11 edition of America Live, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin falsely claimed that the Dream Act creates an "illegal alien student preference program." In fact, as the Congressional Research Service explained in a February 3 report, unlike other legal permanent residents, Dream Act students would have restricted access to federal student financial aid.

Fox forwards misleading claim that Dream Act would "encourage illegals to come to this country." On the November 16 edition of America Live, Fox News correspondent Mike Emanuel advanced the misleading claim that the Dream Act would encourage further illegal immigration and grant in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants. In fact, those not already living in the United States would not be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act, and the bill would affirm state authority to determine in-state tuition rules.

Baier: Dream Act is "a nightmare for some opposed to citizenship for illegal aliens." On the November 16 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier stated that the Dream Act is "a nightmare for some opposed to citizenship for illegal aliens."

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