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DREAM Act would cut deficit by $1.4 billion: CBO report

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Legislation that would give permanent US residency to the children of undocumented workers if they complete two years of college or military service would cut the federal deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years, according to a new government report.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) along with the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) also estimates that the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) would increase revenue by $2.3 billion from 2011 to 2020.

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While the bill would increase net direct spending by $912 million over the 2011-2020 period. The CBO reported, “That amount reflects changes in spending for refundable tax credits, Social Security, Medicare, student loans, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS would charge fees to certify legal status under the bill. Because DHS’s costs for implementing the bill would be covered by those fees, CBO estimates that implementation by DHS would have no significant impact on spending subject to appropriation.”

The report added, “CBO has not estimated other potential effects on discretionary spending, but any such effects would probably be small.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said in an advisory that the CBO reported what his advocacy group already knew.

“The DREAM Act is an important means of strengthening our economy, bolstering our military, and upholding American values of community, opportunity, and hard work,” Sharry said.

“Both parties and both chambers of Congress should act to pass it immediately,” he added.

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Recent polling shows that 66 percent of US voters want Congress to pass the act. President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also shown support for it in the lame-duck session.

“For our young people, for our country, for our country’s economy, we desperately need to pass the DREAM Act,” Duncan said. “We have a chance to do it now in the lame-duck session. I simply don’t think we can afford to wait.”

However, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Fox News on Sunday that the Dream Act was “poorly drafted, filled with loopholes” that “rewards illegal behavior.” Sessions, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that the US must “confront the massive illegality [occurring] in the immigration process.”

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The DREAM Act has caused pressure on the Republican lawmakers from tea party activists. John C. Danforth, a former US senator and ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush, for instance, recently discussed a possible tea party challenge to Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a long-serving moderate who supports the DREAM Act.

In Texas, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who lost a GOP gubernatorial primary to tea party darling Gov. Rick Perry earlier in the year, is getting pressured for her swing vote from both tea party and DREAM Act activists.

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“She personifies everything that the Tea Party is fighting,” Konni Burton, a member of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party steering committee, told the For Worth Star-Telegram Saturday. “She is a Republican, but when you check her votes on many issues, they are not ones that conservatives are happy with.”

Last Monday night, 16 activists, including college students on a three-week hunger strike advocating for the DREAM Act’s passage, were jailed for refusing to leave Sen. Hutchison’s offices.

View the CBO report here. [PDF Link]

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With reporting by Sahil Kapur and Daniel Tencer.


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