Some Dream advocates are already cautioning that they will not be supporting a potential DREAM Act alternative being drafted by Senate Republicans after details of the version were leaked Thursday.
Rumors circulated on Thursday that a DREAM Act version called the ACHIEVE Act is potentially being proposed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), according to the Daily Caller.
News reports indicate that the bill has been in the works for a year and it predates Sen. Marco Rubio’s version.
Advocates not pleased with DREAM Act
The Daily Caller and the National Review Online mentioned some of the details indicating that it was similar to a version announced by Sen. Rubio. The news article leaked some of its details. According to the Daily Caller, the version would include several steps including applying first for a W-1 visa status, which would allow undocumented youth to attend college or serve in the military. Afterwards, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year non-immigrant work visa dubbed the W-2 visa.
In the next step, they would apply for a permanent visa known as W-3 visa status. As a final resolution, after an undeclared number of years, citizenship “could follow.”
For some DREAM Act advocates, a version that doesn’t offer a pathway to citizenship is no deal breaker.
“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,” according to a statement released by Cesar Vargas of the DREAM Action Coalition.
The alternative version would allow undocumented youth to apply if they entered the United States before the age of 14 and no older than 28. It would also require them to attend college or join the military, show good moral standing and keep a felony-free criminal record. That includes no more than one misdemeanor with jail time of more than 30 days.
Yet, Vargas noted in his statement several glitches. He noted that for Dreamers who are interested in serving the country, “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.”
Some of the requirements also mention that applicants will not be eligible to apply for public welfare benefits and they can not access federal student loans, work study, or other benefits or services under the Higher Education Act. The visas would be renewable every four years and the applicants would be required to check with the Department of Homeland Security every six months.
A Senate GOP aide told the National Review Online that this version would eliminate the issue of “chain migration.”
“…after 10 years, (it) puts them on the regular pathway towards permanent residence,” relayed the aide.
Astrid Silva, a Dreamer who is also an advocate with DREAM Big Las Vegas, said they want a certain pathway to citizenship, but nothing mentions it as a possibility.
“Now with the election and proving that the DREAM Act is such a vital part of why people voted, I think that anything less than citizenship would be an insult to the community,” said Silva. “They need to bring forth something together and make it work.”
Vargas also stated that the alternative version is a way to avoid the solution. Regardless of this, they do not get a result, he stressed that they would not give up on the DREAM Act.
“While we appreciate the proactive efforts of the Republican leadership for beginning to engage in the conversation of immigration, the American people, especially Latino voters, spoke clearly on election day that they support the original DREAM Act.”