Dreamers: ACHIEVE Act does not even guarantee a path to citizenship.
Republicans, fresh from their electoral defeat, are considering their own legislation to compete with the DREAM Act. Sen. Kay Hutchinson (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have put forward the ACHIEVE Act, which would offer a type of legal status for undocumented youth. However, a significant difference between this bill and the original DREAM Act is that the ACHIEVE Act does not even guarantee a path to citizenship. As undocumented youth, we will not take anything less than a direct path to citizenship. This is the country we call home and we will assert this position as we move forward.
The DREAM Act is already conservative in nature and has even gathered support from prominent conservative leaders, including Senator Hutchison herself, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the past.
While we appreciate the proactive efforts of the Republican leadership for beginning to engage in the conversation of immigration, the American people, specially Latino voters, spoke clearly on election day that they support the original DREAM Act. The American people support giving undocumented youth an opportunity to EARN our citizenship by serving and contributing to this country. Indeed, the ACHIEVE Act complicates an issue that the Republican senators have admitted is “a strong starting point” and “a humanitarian issue.” For example, for Dreamers interested in serving this country, a strange visa such as the “W-1” status does not currently let someone join the military voluntarily, so unless they also amend 10 U.S.C § 504 to allow such persons to enlist, the ACHIEVE Act won’t help much.
The Republicans lost Latinos big this election, but some have already committed themselves to fight against the DREAM Act no matter how popular it is. And using the ACHIEVE Act is a way to avoid a solution. We know the fight for a common sense immigration reform will not be easy; and this fight is not only for undocumented youth, but also for the parents who took the brave step to give us a better life. Nevertheless, even if we do not get a result, we will not give up on the DREAM Act.
There are indications up and down the Republican Party that show they need to change direction and fast; for example, Tea Party conservative Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has said he supports a path to citizenship. Republicans are in shambles trying to decide what their new platforms should be. This is an opportunity for undocumented youth to demand what is fair of a party that needs to make peace with the fact that it will need to give much more up to coalition politics, and they know that Obama could not have won without Latinos.
If Republicans want to show they are willing to find a solution on immigration, lets make the DREAM Act a starting point. The DREAM Act has polled more than 90% amongst Latinos according to Latino Decisions, and recently polled majority support from the general public according to ABC News. The ACHIEVE Act, similar to Rubio’s bill, has less support and less popular than the DREAM Act.