Allowing hundreds of illegal aliens to participate in a congressional hearing sends a dangerous signal that it’s okay to flout immigration laws in the U.S.
That’s what some immigration watchdogs are saying about a Senate hearing Tuesday that intended to commend those who came to this country at a young age with their parents but were never granted legal status.
Adding to the oddity of the occasion, which HUMAN EVENTS reported on earlier this week, the high-ranking witness testifying at the hearing was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the nation’s chief immigration enforcement official.
“It sends a signal that one of the top law enforcement officials in the country is clearly on their side and ignoring the rule of law,” said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“It’s one of the most profound and outrageous juxtapositions we have ever seen in a public hearing,” Dane said.
“If ever there was a doubt which side of the law this administration is on, this visual graphic told the full story,” Dane said.
The panel was led by Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D. –Ill.), who is sponsoring legislation called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to give legal status to those under age 35 who arrived in the United States before age 16, provided they complete two years of college or serve two years in the military.
“The young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act call themselves dreamers,” Durbin said at the hearing. “Over the years, I have met hundreds of these dreamers, and hundreds of them are here today.”
After introducing about a half dozen of those in the audience by name, Durbin asked “everyone here today who is a DREAM Act student to stand and be recognized.”
Nearly everyone in the audience, which seats more than 300 people, stood.
“Thank you so much for being here,” Durbin said.
“When I look around this room, I see America ‘s future. Our doctors, our teachers, our nurses, our engineers, our scientists, our soldiers, our congressmen, our senators and maybe our President.”
“Maybe he’s expecting to change the Constitution,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies.
Camarota, who testified at the hearing, described the packed audience as a “well-organized showing.”
“Durbin knew explicitly who would be there, and it was all planned, nothing was spontaneous,” Camarota said.
“It sent a signal that we do not take our laws seriously. That you can come into a Senate chamber and admit it publicly and to the press, in large numbers, and it does not matter. It’s extremely troubling,” Camarota said.
Press staffers for the Republican members who serve on the subcommittee did not respond to requests for comment on the incident.
The intent of the hearing was to reassure some factions of the Democrat base that their issue was being tended to, “and yes, he’s [Durbin’s] hoping that it will help him at election time,” Camarota said.
Dane said that Democrats used the hearing to create a “visual symbol” and “mainstream” the issue that children of illegal aliens were brought here through no fault of their own, and should therefore be given citizenship through congressional action.
Dane called the bill a “massive amnesty bill designed as an education initiative.”
“It’s a game to suggest they have legitimate standing. It’s audacious and represents the scraping of the rule of law by the Senate,” Dane said.