Fox Forwards Blatantly False Claim That DREAM Act Would Provide “Free Ride To College”

Fox News uncritically reported the false claim that the DREAM Act would offer “a free ride to college” to certain unauthorized immigrants.

Fox Reports GOP Claim that DREAM Act Would Provide “Free Ride”

Fox Correspondent Uncritically Reports GOP Claim that DREAM Act Offers “A Free Ride To College.” From the December 8 edition of Special Report:

DOUG MCKELWAY: Democrats say citizenship is contingent upon two years of college, but Republicans say there is no degree, no course load required. The Democrats say that citizenship could also be contingent upon two years of military service, but the Republicans counter who would want to join the military when there's that better option of a free ride to college with no degree and no course load required? And lastly, Democrats say applicants would undergo background checks by the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans say immigration background checks are rife with fraud.

It is not at all clear tonight that the House Dems have the votes. It faces an even dimmer prospect in the Senate. But by bringing it up tonight, presumably, Harry Reid is keeping his promise to an important Democratic constituency -- the Latinos. [Special Report with Bret Baier, 12/08/10]

Hannity Guest Claims DREAM Act Provides “Free College Education.” From the December 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Actress Salma Hayek admits she was once an illegal immigrant in the U.S. Now the House this very night by the way passed 216-198 the Dream Act, which is basically amnesty.

LEEANN TWEEDEN: Drives me crazy. First of all, if they were brought here at the age of 16 or younger, how do you prove that? How do you know that? I mean, and, if you're giving-- I'd like for education-- I'm using the school system in the state of California, I don't get any breaks.

You know, it just seems to me, you break the law, you come here, what, you can serve two years in the Army or get free college education. Oh, I don't know which one is it? What are they going to take? They are going to take the college education and who says that they are not going to drop-out after a week?

WILLIAMS: Wait a minute. You are a big supporter of the troops. If somebody is serving in the U.S. military and risking their life for all of our safety, why is it the case that you say you would deny them citizenship?

TWEEDEN: I'm not saying that I would deny people that actually go and serve. They are giving the opportunity for a child to go either two years in the military or go to school and have it paid for.

WILLIAMS: No, no, no. This is a child-- OK, I'm glad you said that, because what the law says, if somebody who came to this country, often times of their own volition but because their parents brought them here, and then they've been going to school and they continue to get education --

TWEEDEN: That we have to pay for.

WILLIAMS: No pay for, they're just qualified for a scholarship like any other kid if they have the academic credentials. [Hannity, 12/09/10]

In Fact, The Bill Limits Financial Aid Available To DREAM Act Students

Nothing In The Bill Provides A “Free Ride To College.” The DREAM Act makes permanent legal status eventually available to certain individuals who attend college, but it does not pay for that education. In fact, the bill limits federal student aid available to those who obtain legal status through the DREAM Act to loans, work-study programs and services like counseling, and mentoring. DREAM Act students will not have access to federal grant programs like Pell Grants and Opportunity Grants.

From Section 11 of the DREAM Act:


Notwithstanding any provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.), with respect to assistance provided under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.), an alien who is granted conditional nonimmigrant status or lawful permanent resident status under this Act shall be eligible only for the following assistance under such title:

(1) Student loans under parts D and E of such title IV (20 U.S.C. 1087a et seq., 1087aa et seq.), subject to the requirements of such parts.

(2) Federal work-study programs under part C of such title IV (42 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.), subject to the requirements of such part.

(3) Services under such title IV (20 U.S.C.1070 et seq.), subject to the requirements for such services. [H.R. 6497, Section 11, 12/07/10]

AILA President: Claim Forwarded By Fox Is “Simply Wrong.” David Leopold, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which supports the DREAM Act, told Media Matters:

It is simply wrong to claim that the Dream Act offers a “free ride” to college for eligible immigrants. Under the legislation passed by the House last night the DREAM immigrants are eligible for no greater benefits than other lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. These include certain student loans and federal work-study programs. [Leopold email, 12/09/10]

DREAM Act Provides Legal Status To Certain Unauthorized Immigrants Who Came To U.S. As Children. The DREAM Act would provide conditional legal status for five years to unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children and meet other requirements. This status can be extended for another five years provided that the individual has, in addition to meeting other conditions,completed at least two years of college or served in the armed forces. Following the 10 year period, those individuals can apply for permanent residence. Only after having permanent resident status for at least three years can they seek citizenship. From the Congressional Research Survey summary of the DREAM Act passed by the House on December 8:

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010 or DREAM Act of 2010 - Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional nonimmigrant status, an alien who: (1) entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding this Act's enactment; (2) is a person of good moral character; (3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act; (4) has not participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; (5) has not been convicted of certain offenses under federal or state law; (6) has been admitted to an institution of higher education (IHE) or has earned a high school diploma or general education development certificate in the United States; (7) has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal unless the alien has remained in the United States under color of law after such order's issuance, or received the order before attaining the age of 16; and (8) was under age 30 on the date of this Act's enactment.


Establishes an initial five-year period of conditional nonimmigrant status which shall include employment authorization. Terminates such status if the alien: (1) becomes a public charge; (2) receives a dishonorable or other than honorable military discharge; or (3) ceases to be a person of good moral character, becomes inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds, has participated in racial, religious, social, or political persecution, or has been convicted of certain federal or state offenses.

Extends such conditional status for an additional five-year period if the alien: (1) has demonstrated good moral character; (2) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds, has not participated in racial, religious, social, or political persecution, and has not been convicted of certain federal or state offenses; (3) has not abandoned U.S. residency; (4) has earned an IHE degree (or has completed at least two years in a bachelor's or higher degree program) in the United States, or has served in the Armed Forces for at least two years (or if discharged, was honorably discharged); and (5) has provided a list of each elementary school attended in the United States.


Authorizes a conditional nonimmigrant to file an application to adjust his or her status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Requires such application to be filed during the period beginning 1 year before and ending on either the date that is 10 years after the date of the granting of initial conditional nonimmigrant status or any other expiration date as extended by the Secretary.

Requires such application to show that the alien: (1) has demonstrated good moral character; (2) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds, has not participated in racial, religious, social, or political persecution, and has not been convicted of certain federal or state offenses; (3) has not abandoned U.S. residency; and (4) if granted a hardship exception with respect to extension of conditional status, has subsequently complied with the appropriate requirements.

Requires an alien, prior to adjusting from conditional to permanent resident status, to: (1) satisfy citizenship and federal tax requirements; (2) submit biometric and biographic data; and (3) have had security and law enforcement background checks completed.

Authorizes an alien who adjusts to permanent resident status (and meets other specified requirements) to apply after three years in such status for naturalization. [Congressional Research Service, Accessed on December 9]