On Tuesday in Washington, two retiring GOP senators – Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona – introduced a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally as long as they enroll in college or joined the military. The bill, dubbed the Achieve Act, would extend a new visa to those younger than 28 but would provide no path to citizenship.
The Achieve Act would only provide a pathway for young adults to apply for legal permanent residency – but not citizenship – if they have completed military service or higher education and have worked in the U.S for at least four years.
It would only be available to those who entered the country before the age of 14 and who do not have serious criminal records. Applicants would also have to agree not to seek government benefits, including federal student loans.
Advocates are calling the Achieve Act a watered down DREAM Act with tighter elibility requirements than the DREAM Act itself.
“It doesn’t make sense for Republicans to water down the DREAM Act, especially after we saw in the elections that not only the Latino community but also a large portion of the American people support the DREAM Act and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” Erika Andiola, a DREAMer from Arizona told VOXXI.
Dulce Matuz, the Arizona DREAMer selected by TIME magazine as one of the most influential people in the world, said the Achieve Act “treats DREAMers like second-class citizens.”
“We will not tolerate political games that disrespect immigrant youth,” Matuz said in an e-mailed statement. “We are educated and capable of dealing with important issues that our lives depend on”.
The Huffington Post points after the news conference Kyl told reportersthat there are other ways for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship, including getting married to a U.S. citizen.
Kyl said that because undocumented immigrants are young it was likely for them to gain citizenship through marriage because “in this country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens.”