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May 6, 2015

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Republicans’ Dream Act alternative won’t have much chance to pass

After more than a decade of nearly uniform opposition to the Dream Act, Republicans have proposed an alternative.

But it’s all but guaranteed not to go anywhere.

The authors of the legislation, Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyl, are retiring at the end of the year, and there’s not enough time left in the legislative calendar to get a comprehensive immigration discussion going before the start of the new congressional session in January.

Perhaps more important, unlike the Dream Act, their proposal doesn’t include a concrete pathway to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the country illegally, which leading Democrats have said is their bottom line on immigration reform from which they will not budge.

In recent weeks, even some Republicans — including Nevada Sen. Dean Heller — have adopted an outlook on immigration that includes a pathway to citizenship.

Heller told the Sun this month he supports citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants who enroll in college or enlist in the military — the two target populations of the Dream Act. He also said he was talking with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — who has taken the lead on immigration reform — about the future of a comprehensive bill.

Those talks are ongoing, though they are “not moving quickly, let’s put it that way,” Heller said Tuesday.

Heller, like most Republicans, has put the responsibility for the timeline on immigration squarely in the hands of Democratic leaders. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this month that immigration is “very, very high” on his list of priorities for 2013.

But part of the process will necessarily involve Republicans coming to the table with counterproposals.

Hutchison and Kyl’s proffer, which they call the Achieve Act, is the first direct Republican counter to the Dream Act to be put to paper.

Last spring, Rubio was rumored to be drafting a Republican alternative.

Rubio’s proposal never materialized before President Barack Obama stole his thunder in June, when he announced that he was going to defer deportation proceedings for all Dream Act-eligible youth and give them renewable two-year work visas.

That move, which went into effect in August, also seems to have pre-emptively taken some of the wind out of the sails for Hutchison and Kyl.

“This president already kind of did this,” one Democratic leadership aide said. “But while we disagree with their approach, it’s encouraging that Republican senators are thinking about proactive measures. Hopefully this will bring more of their colleagues to join into the discussion about getting a bill.”

But it appears the main Republican discussions may be happening outside Hutchison’s and Kyl’s circle.

Though Hutchison and Kyl credited Rubio with playing an important advisory role in the drafting of their bill, he was noticeably not listed as a co-sponsor to the legislation they unveiled Tuesday.

Neither was Heller. In fact, Heller hadn’t even seen the bill when the Sun asked him about it. Rubio also was silent.

That has led to some speculation that Rubio may be more inclined to include a pathway to citizenship in the legislation he ultimately decides to stamp as his own.

After losing the Hispanic vote handily in the 2012 elections, many Republicans made a fast move to embrace a policy more welcoming to undocumented immigrants than they previously held.

But on Tuesday, Kyl and Hutchison seemed pretty convinced that a pathway to citizenship would be a non-starter with most Republicans.

Kyl warned Democratic leaders against “blowing up the deal by trying to force the other side to accept something that they just cannot accept. That’s why this has been drafted the way it is.”

The Achieve Act proposes three tiers of non-immigrant status for certain young, undocumented immigrants who enroll in college or graduate school, or serve in the military.

To be eligible for the first-tier visa, categorized “W-1,” an undocumented young person must have entered the country before age 14, have lived in the United States for at least five years before the date of the bill’s adoption, have a command of English and a clean record (no more than a single misdemeanor), and be no older than 28. Individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree would be eligible until age 32.

It’s a slightly narrower eligibility than the Dream Act, which accepts young students and soldiers who arrived in the United States up to age 16. Also unlike the Dream Act, W-1 visa holders wouldn’t be able to access federal loans and would have to check in with the Department of Homeland Security every six months.

But where the Dream Act would expedite citizenship for those eligible, the goal of the Achieve Act is to give those students and soldiers permanent legal status without a chance at citizenship.

“I think our (bill) is better than the Dream Act because it doesn’t allow (recipients) to cut in line before people who have come and abided by the rule of our laws today,” Hutchison said. “It doesn’t keep them from applying under the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.”

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  1. To think that you would ask these kids to put their life on the line by serving in the military without a chance at citizenship is preposterous . And republicans wonder why Hispanics won't vote for them .

  2. This is utterly ridiculous. The GOoPers only intend to make token efforts at anything resembling a DREAM Act. It's more for political purposes. They are trying to say, see? look what we're doing, we did this, we did that, but we don't care about the whole thing.

    I mean, c'mon, they put two GOoPer Senators on the task, both of them not seeking reelection. They're the sacrificial lambs thrown out there. Because if they face a backlash from the rabid Tea Party infection part of their party, they don't care because they are safe.

    To have the Tea/Republican Party address the DREAM Act is the same as putting Godzilla in charge of Tokyo.

    All of this is shaping up to the simple fact they fully intend to continue to follow the Sharron Angle course of action....demonize and dehumanize an entire race of people...only to pander to a base core of voters they must please....a shrinking one at that. Give it a few months and they'll be back to talking "anchor babies" and "build the dang fence" and portraying every issue facing Latino Americans as they are simply illegal border crossers. In short, they just don't care.

    Stick of fork in it. The Tea/Republican Party is dead. They are only doing superficial window dressing stuff now. They are on the ropes. And they know it.

    Their own fault though. They have no message that appeals to the majority of American voters out here. They have decided to fix their party by shooting every messenger they can, but ignore the fact that their policies are disgusting.

    We are witnessing the utter destruction of the Tea/Republican Party. Not by us. By them. Stand back, people. You don't want to get hit with ultra-conservative shrapnel when it all explodes...blasted to smithereens.

  3. The ENTIRE rest of the planet has it right: illegal immigrants are NOT welcome. Illegals must be expelled if they don't leave on their own. All of Europe, Dominican and everywhere else realizes the basic logic that you cannot accept and invite in every yahoo that WANTS WHAT YOU HAVE. No economy can support that.

  4. Simply: I hear you. I had relatives I never met cause they were turned into hamburger on D-day. psst to wedo and others: Any and every recruit that makes it through boot camp becomes a citizen--I saw this first hand when I was in boot camp. The alleged proposed legislation to make a path to citizenship for those who serve is HYPE--they already get a free pass. They hype that into a poor proposal with all sorts of passes for everybody else hoping to CON the country into passing more freebees for illegals.

  5. azsk: Wish you were a trusted poster so more people would see your 7:37 post. A little logic goes a long way. Maybe Colin could clue in. The tide is turning and the illegals are STARTING to leave. SCOTUS support Arizona's obligation to protect CITIZENS from illegals.... SCOTUS has said "against those people who have no reason to be in this country...." I see, NV SOS is proposing legislation against voter fraud. Other States have enacted and the lower life forms threatening it are losing in the courts. Too many illegals stealing birth certificates claiming to be citizens....

  6. Oh boy! This will certainly get the Hispanics running out to vote for Republicans in the next election!

    The GOP is simply demented. There is no other explanation for such an incredibly lame idea as this one.

  7. peacelily: I am NOT Republican. I am for a safety net for WORKING Americans, not dependent whiners. I am for prioritizing this country for Americans. I served 14 years in the military. What have you ever done for anyone else. And please, don't pretend that employment in health care and teaching is doing ANYTHING for anyone else.

  8. azsk8fan,

    Just closing the boarder will not stop illegal immigration. Severe poverty and hungry children will lead people to take many risks to find a way to provide essential needs to their families.

    You make good points and I agree, but the issue is more about employers than illegals.

    First, we have to curb the offshoring of jobs. Second, we have to attached very stiff penalties for employers hiring illegal labor. They should be required to use eVerify, and when found to be hiring illegal labor, they should be fined heavily for the first offense and jailed for any that follow. Make it a felony.

    If deportation of the illegals is expected to work, that is brainless.

    Only when the jobs dry up will that happen.

    For the narcotics cartels to be dealt with, if Americans stop using drugs like drinking water, the market would dry up and the criminals would have to find another country to ingest their poisons. Both sides of the border are dangerous and guilty in this regard.

    That also means we have to get serious in providing drug rehabilitation.

    We are all guilty for not demanding these solutions be implemented.