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.
Illegal Aliens Out of the Shadows, Welcomed at Senate Hearing – HUMAN EVENTS (Watch) | Audrey Hudson
It’s not unusual for politicians on Capitol Hill to recognize citizens during hearings on legislation that would have a positive or negative impact on their lives.
But that tactic took a different turn this week when hundreds of illegal immigrants filled the largest hearing room in the Senate to openly participate in the proceedings.
And they did so without threat of arrest from the nation’s chief immigration law enforcement official who was sitting in the front row: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Many of the illegal immigrants were recognized by name by Sen. Dick Durbin (D. –Ill.) who led the panel, and commended by Obama administration officials who want to give them legal status under sweeping legislation called the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would give permanent legal status to illegal immigrants, up to 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. “Over the years, I have met hundreds of these dreamers, and hundreds of them are here today,” Durbin continued.
Durbin introduced about a half dozen of the illegal immigrants by name and asked them to stand, as he told their story of how they were brought into the country illegally by their parents. Although they had attended U.S. schools, Durbin said they
could either not get jobs or faced problems pursing higher education because of their illegal status.
“Let me ask everyone here today who is a DREAM Act student to stand and be recognized,” Durbin said.
Nearly everyone in the audience stood.
“Thank you so much for being here,” Durbin said.
Just 24 hours before the hearing was scheduled to convene in the rather small hearing room of the Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building which seats about 100 people, Republican staffers were notified that Democrats had moved the proceeding to room 216 of the Hart Building.
Better known as the “media room,” that hearing hall can seat 300 to 400 and is typically reserved for large gatherings, like confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices.
Napolitano told this subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee that although the large group gathered was part of the population that is subject to deportation, there would be no enforcement of the law that morning.