The ACHIEVE Act: the GOP's "softer" DREAM Act
A step in the right direction.
Dream Act-Lite Plan Circulating Among Republicans: Report
By Elise Foley
11/15/2012 4:39 pm EST
Republican senators are working on a Dream Act-style bill called the ACHIEVE Act to give legal status to some undocumented young people, the Daily Caller's Matt K. Lewis reported Thursday.
The GOP plan would be a watered-down version of the decade-old Dream Act initially put forward by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The Dream Act was never able to get through both chambers of Congress, and most recently failed in the Senate in 2010. With renewed interest on immigration reform, there is an effort to come to some sort of bipartisan solution, and the ACHIEVE Act is reportedly a plan being floated to do so.
The ACHIEVE Act would allow some undocumented immigrants to attend college or serve in the military under a W-1 visa, Lewis reported. They could then apply for another four-year visa to work or do further studies, and then apply for permanent residence without welfare benefits. Citizenship "could follow," according to the details posted.
The bill being floated would apply to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 14 as long as they are under the age of 28, if they have no college degree. If they are college-educated, the age limit is 32, according to the Daily Caller. The Dream Act, by contrast, would allow immigrants to apply so long as they came before the age of 16 and are currently under the age of 30.
Both plans require an immigrant to show good moral character, maintain a felony-free criminal record, and live in the U.S. for five consecutive years before the bill's enactment -- assuring foreign nationals will not enter the country now simply to apply.
The ACHIEVE Act would likely require undocumented immigrants hoping to take part in the law to go through a medical exam and background check as well, Lewis reported.
President Barack Obama announced a policy in June to grant deferred action to some of the same undocumented young people who would be impacted by the Dream Act. Republicans decried that decision as an overstep of his federal authority and said Congress should deal with the issue, but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) dropped his plan to introduce a bill immediately after.
There is now increased appetite for reform, and a bill for undocumented youth may be an easier haul than broader legalization efforts. Members of Congress and the president have said they are working now on an immigration plan that would be comprehensive, but some Republicans seem more likely to chip off the issue of young unauthorized immigrants into its own legislation.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told HuffPost the text is "a working draft of what Sen. Rubio began working on over the summer."
"Senator Rubio has said that his proposal would be permanent and legalize the status of undocumented young people in America without creating a special pathway to citizenship," he said in an email. "We are still working on the timing and specifics of our legislation, with the goal of permanently solving the problem with broad, bipartisan support."
The senator said earlier on Thursday that be believes a Dream Act-style bill should be the first priority, followed by broader reform.
"The issue of these kids that are in this country undocumented is not an immigration issue, it's a humanitarian one," he said at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum. "They are more like refugees in that sense than they are like illegal immigration folks, because they're here through no fault of their own, they've been raised their entire life here and they want to go on with their future."
The Daily Caller report on which this is based.
Details about the GOP’s alternative to the DREAM Act emerge
3:41 PM 11/15/2012
The Daily Caller has obtained details of an ACHIEVE Act proposal being floated by some Senate Republicans.
It appears similar to the conservative alternative to the Dream Act that Sen. Marco Rubio worked on last summer (before President Obama issued his executive order, effectively tabling the issue until after the election).
Essentially, the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.)
Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship “could follow…”
Below are a few of the details being floated to be eligible for the W-1 visa:
- “Applicant must have lived in the U.S. for five year’s prior to the Act’s enactment”;
- Must have entered the country before age 14
- Must have good moral character
- “Applicant must not have committed a felony, must not have committed more than one misdemeanor with a jail term of more than 30 days, must not have committed a crime of moral turpitude, and must not have a final order of removal pending”‘
- Must have knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, “and of principles of U.S. government”
- Applicant must be 28 or younger at time of application (or 32 if they have a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college);
- Must pay a $525 fee
- Must submit to a medical exam and a background check, submit biometric and biographic data, and register with the Selective Service.
My take: Children who grew up in the U.S. but are undocumented, become — not just a legal issue — but also (as Rubio has said) a humanitarian one.
Many conservatives, of course, opposed the DREAM Act because it creates a special pathway to citizenship, allowing illegal immigrants to get in line ahead of other immigrants who are following the rules, and potentially creating a problem of chain migration.
The ACHIEVE Act seems to resolve this problem by granting undocumented children nonimmigrant visas so that they can go to school and work in the U.S., and, after a decade, or so, puts them on the regular pathway towards permanent residence (and potentially, citizenship.)
It will be interesting to see how this is greeted…
Like I said, there's not much difference between the two parties.
I'm surprised at myself, but I don't think I have a problem with this. I think the requirements for the W-1 visa are fair, however I doubt they will stay that way.
I really like the no welfare part. It needs to be expanded to all forms of welfare(food stamps, section 8, etc)
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Nothing in there about securing the border first I see. This was the crux of the bipartisan opposition to legalizing these law-breakers first.
Dude, shit is happening with the Chiefs and you're nowhere to be found.
Nobody gives a shit about politics anymore. Your enemies have been defeated.
Go back to the Lounge.
House to consider limited GOP immigration bill
12:41PM EST November 23. 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans still smarting from their poor showing among Hispanics in the presidential election are planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would both expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S.
Republican leaders made it clear after the election that the party was ready to get serious about overhauling the nation's dysfunctional immigration system, a top priority for Hispanic communities. Taking up what is called the STEM Jobs Act during the lame-duck session could be seen as a first step in that direction.
The House voted on a STEM bill — standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in September, but under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. It was defeated, with more than 80 percent of Democrats voting against it, because it offset the increase in visas for high-tech graduates by eliminating another visa program that is available for less-educated foreigners, many from Africa.
Republicans are changing the formula this time by adding a provision long sought by some immigration advocates — expanding a program that allows the spouses and minor children of people with permanent residence, or green card, to wait in the United States for their own green cards to be granted.
There are some 80,000 of these family-based green cards allocated every year, but there are currently about 322,000 husbands, wives and children waiting in this category and on average people must wait more than two years to be reunited with their families. In that past that wait could be as long as six years.
The House proposal would allow family members to come to the U.S. one year after they apply for their green cards, but they wouldn't be able to work until they actually got the card. It applies to the families of green card holders who marry after getting their residency permits.
Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut who chaired the House immigration subcommittee and authored a 1990 immigration law, said the bill neither increases the number of green cards nor gives people green cards early. But people "get the most important benefit of being able to live legally in the United States with their spouses."
Morrison, an immigration policy lobbyist who advocates for groups such as American Families United, called the bill a stepping-stone to more comprehensive immigration reform, That Republicans initiated it "to me is a positive gesture that they want to do business on this subject," he said
Megan Whittemore, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., a key proponent of the STEM Act, said the bill is "family friendly, helping spouses and minor children who would otherwise be separated from their families for extended periods of time."
The bill will be taken up this time under normal procedures requiring only a majority vote, and it is almost certain to pass the Republican-led House. It remains to be seen whether it will engender enough Democratic support to give it momentum as it heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate.
It would give 55,000 green cards a year to doctoral and masters graduates in the STEM fields. The measure, strongly backed by U.S. high-tech companies, would make it easier for people trained in the United States to put their skills to work for American companies rather than non-American competitors.
But the legislation would still eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which gives out a similar 55,000 green cards a year to those from countries, including many in Africa, with traditionally low rates of immigration to the U.S. That prompted the House's Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to all come out against it in September.
The three caucuses said Republicans were trying to increase legal immigration for people they want by ending immigration for people they don't want.
Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the bill is a message from Republicans that "we are here and we are ready to talk about immigration reform."
But she said she doubted it will make much progress in the Senate during the short lame-duck session. People "are now starting to think about broader reform," she said, adding that a limited bill that doesn't increase visas won't get a lot of support.
Looks like Republicans are finally going to act on immigration and then say it was their idea all along.
Don't like the idea of adding to welfare rolls by allowing family members to come to this country but not have the ability to get a job because they're waiting for a green card. Its just creating another layer of illegal workers.
But let's not let the truth correct anything now, let's keep riding that jackass to the next election.
GOP lost the Hispanic vote because statistically, they favor government programs. Softening your stance on immigration isn't going to save the, the Hispanic vote.
There's no chance this gets done this Congress, is there?
Republican senators introduce alternate DREAM Act legislation
By Cameron Joseph
11/27/12 07:29 PM ET
Two outgoing Republican senators on Tuesday introduced an alternative to the Democrats’ DREAM Act, the first detailed immigration proposal from the GOP as the party grapples with one of its most problematic issues.
The bill, introduced by retiring border-state Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay in the country without an expedited pathway to citizenship.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has worked closely with his GOP colleagues on the bill but has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor. Rubio told The Hill that he thinks “the concept is the right one and it’s one we helped them formulate” but said he is “still taking input from a lot of the stakeholders.”
Rubio’s hesitation leaves Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as the only current co-sponsor of the bill who will be in Congress next year — a sign of the cautious approach many Republicans are taking on the complex and politically charged issue.
Rubio, when asked whether he preferred to proceed step by step on immigration reform rather than tackle a broader bill, said, “I think there are multiple issues that should be dealt with separately, but I think they can be dealt with sequentially.”
The Kyl-Hutchison bill, called the Achieve Act, sets up a three-step visa system to allow many of those brought into the U.S. at a young age to stay in the country.
The first visa would allow those enrolled in college or the military to stay for six years. After they graduate or leave the military, they could apply for another four-year work visa. After that, they could apply for four-year visas to allow them to remain in the country legally.
Kyl acknowledged during a press conference at the Capitol that it was “doubtful” his bill would be dealt with before he and Hutchison leave office.
“We’re going to have to count on people like Sen. McCain and Sen. Rubio and others who have an interest in this issue next year, because neither of us are going to be here,” Kyl said.
Republicans are looking to Rubio as a leader on the issue of immigration, and Hutchison called Rubio’s involvement “very important.”
The Kyl-Hutchison bill’s broad outline is similar to a proposal Rubio worked on earlier this year. It was shelved after President Obama signed an executive order halting the deportation of some undocumented youth brought to the country illegally.
Kyl said the executive order was an example of the administration taking “the law into its own hands” and “violating [the] oath of office.”
Rubio blamed the president’s order for delaying progress on immigration reform. Still, he sounded optimistic a deal could be reached next year.
“We want to take some more input now in light of the president’s deferred action plan to see how those things mesh together, because that’s now a reality,” he told The Hill.
“I hope this [Kyl-Hutchison] effort starts getting some traction. But if it doesn’t, by the end of the year, given all of the other major issues floating around, I think we’re in a good place to have something ready by early in the next Congress.”
Hutchison and Kyl both said they decided to introduce the bill now to “get the ball rolling” on some form of legislation to aid illegal immigrants who were raised in the U.S. and “know no other country.”
“We’re not saying this is the end-all, be-all,” Hutchison said.
The Texas senator said she understood why Rubio had not signed on to support the bill.
“I think that he is not ready to have a final product at this time, but he is very supportive of what we’re doing,” Hutchison said.
“We hope he will take the ball next year and lead the effort.”
Kyl and Hutchison stressed their bill would not allow anyone to move ahead of others applying for citizenship. Rather, an individual could remain in the U.S. while applying through existing programs for citizenship — a significant difference from Senate Democrats’ proposals.
“It doesn’t give them a special preference before those who have waited in line for years to get into the citizenship track,” Hutchison said.
The senators’ move signals that Republicans might seek to push immigration reform in a piecemeal fashion rather than as a comprehensive overhaul of the system, as many Democrats want.
Hutchison said her experience working on comprehensive reform with McCain and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) during President George W. Bush’s second term led her to conclude that a wide-ranging bill is not the “best way to approach” immigration.
Hutchison and Kyl said they’d been working on the bill for approximately a year and its introduction had nothing to do with the GOP’s weak performance among Latino voters in the recent election.
Kyl emphasized that the bill is not a “Republican push on immigration” but rather his and Hutchison’s own effort.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not weighed in.
“He’ll review it, but he hasn’t said yes or no on this or any of the other [immigration bills]. That’s a next-year thing,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told The Hill. “Beyond that, he hasn’t picked a bill or anything like that.”
Hutchison and Kyl said they’ve briefed their Senate replacements.
Kyl pointed out that Sen.-elect Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) “was very forward-leaning on trying to get comprehensive immigration reform” passed in the House.
Flake told The Hill that Congress needs to “realistically and humanely deal with this issue.”
“I’ve not studied it yet, but this bill seems to be a good starting point for discussion,” he said in a statement.
Hutchison described Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as “very interested” in the bill. Cruz could not be reached for comment.
5 Republicans also co wrote the Veterans Jobs bill. None of those five voted to break the filibuster because Obama came out in favor of it.
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