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GOP makes first step on immigration reform

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We knew this day was coming as soon as we saw how the Latino vote carried President Obama to victory in November.

Two Republican senators, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, have introduced a bill that would allow DREAMers to remain in the country legally, but without a special and automatic pathway to citizenship.

From NBC Latino:

“The ‘Achieve Act’  proposes that young undocumented immigrants who were brought here before age 14 and are 28 years old or less (or less than 32 years old with a U.S. bachelor’s degree) can obtain study or military visas, which could later be upgraded for work purposes and eventually lead to permanent (non-immigrant) visas. …

While the Achieve Act does not put young undocumented immigrants ‘in the front of the line’ for a citizenship track, the Senators said it does not preclude Dreamers from applying for citizenship or green cards. Senator Kyl also said many of these Dreamers might marry U.S. citizens at some point, or perhaps be able to obtain sponsorship through employment.  The proposed legislation would not allow Dreamers to qualify for public welfare, federal student loans, or benefits.

Latino Democratic legislators say the fact this legislation does not include a path to citizenship makes this a non-starter.”

I wouldn’t call the Achieve Act a non-starter. It’s more like a good start.

While the Achieve Act doesn’t treat Achievers as well as the DREAM Act treats DREAMers, it does recognize that certain young people should be differentiated from the rest of the undocumented immigrant population. That’s an important first step in passing legislation that’ll make life in America and the road to legal status easier for DREAMers, Achievers, or whatever you want to call them.

The two senators themselves hinted at the fact that their bill isn’t some much of a serious piece of legislation as it is something to “get this ball rolling,” as Senator Kyl phrased it. Senator Hutchison said that beginning with a focus on DREAMers is part of the “art of compromise on a difficult issue like this,” presumably referring to the debate over immigration reform.

“Citizenship is the bedrock of our immigration system,” Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) told reporter after attending a citizenship ceremony in Chicago Tuesday morning. “I will not support immigration reform that falls short of citizenship, and neither will the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or the American people.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the only senator in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, agreed with Gutiérrez. “Republicans must embrace an earned path to citizenship if they want to address the Republican party’s issues with the Latino electorate,” Menendez said, “and this bill doesn’t achieve that goal.”

According to the NBC report, Senators Hutchison and Kyl did a lot of namedropping during their press conference on Tuesday, mentioning Senator Marco Rubio’s name more than a few times. They’re hoping Rubio’s alleged input in the Achieve Act will give their bill some street cred among Latinos — which only serves to underscore how little the Republican Party knows about the Latino electorate.

Still, as I said in the beginning, this is a good first step. Once a sleeping giant, Latinos finally awoke last month, and they now command the attention of the conservative party and are a primary focus of domestic policy. There’s even a immigration bill coming up for a vote on Friday, introduced by House Republicans — you heard me correctly: House Republicans — that would allow the spouses and minor children of legal immigrants to remain in the country while they’re waiting for their green cards.

So whether it’s DREAM or Achieve that gets passed, Latinos should will call it a victory.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. This is misleading. GOP was working on immigration reform before the election. Obama shut it down with his bogus executive order. He wants Democrats to take credit. He doesn’t care about you. It’s all politics for him. Don’t forget it was a Republican President to granted amnesty in the 80s.

  2. This just in, your boi god Barry has cut your access to Pell grants by 33%, he just forgot to mention it before Election Day.

  3. The usual paranoid suspects have returned!

  4. I agree with you Gerard. The same old crazy, extremist retoric from the same old Fox News puppets. I almost feel bad for them, wait no I don’t.

  5. We’ve gone beyond the “dreaming” and into a clear reality of what must occur next. The moment has arrived and they can no long side-step the issue of reforming and preparing for a surge. We’ll be the majority soon enough…

  6. Yup, we are the “majority” mentality. Invasion USA and Machete all rolled up into one. Because in the end that’s what’s it’s always been about – taking over. And if we don’t agree with your demands then we are called “extremists” effing freaking unbelievable the crap all of you try to get away with! You are all nightmares!

  7. The GOP better wake up because we are going to lose the nation to imposters. Can you imagine what harsh punishments Mexico would do to Anglos if they tried to pull DREAMer crap in reverse there!

  8. & In breaking news, Mario finally put up a picture of himself.

  9. Not a very flattering at that

  10. Mario did u stated that latinos who went out to vote as “impostors” and are “taking over”? One could easily say that those are extremist point of view.

  11. Actually I am speaking the truth, Fran’s view was the extreme one. So what if you are the majority? What, mob rule?

Trackbacks

  1. […] they didn’t simply present their own immigration bill in response to the Republican-backed Achieve Act introduced by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona — both of whom […]

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