Via the Daily Caller. It speaks volumes of the politics of this that two of the three senators who are sponsoring it are retiring next month and the other, McCain, just won reelection two years ago and will be 80 when he decides whether to run again. No one here, in other words, is worried about a primary.
The key difference between DREAM and ACHIEVE is citizenship, but in the end it’s not much of a difference:
The DREAM Act offers applicants temporary residency for a six-year period after completing two years of college or two years in the military. Within this period undocumented immigrants may then qualify for permanent residency, and as a permanent residents can later try the path to citizenship.
As for the Achieve Act, it offers three different visas: the first, good for up to six years, for students; the second, a work visa good for four years, and the third is a permanent nonimmigrant visa that would have to be renewed every five years. Those who fall under the Achieve Act and are interested in U.S. citizenship would have to apply for a green card and go through the same procedures as other immigrants.
So DREAM creates a special path to citizenship and makes that path relatively short. ACHIEVE doesn’t create a special path and takes longer, but if you follow the steps and land a renewable W-3 work visa under the act, then…
No new green cards are added in the Act, but a W-3 visa recipient could take advantage of opportunities in current law to obtain one; for example, if a W-3 visa holder were to marry a U.S. citizen, that alien, already in W-3 status and now married to a U.S. citizen, would be eligible for a green card (legal permanent resident status). Citizenship could follow after the requisite number of years required in green card status (and processing usually takes around a year after that).
Kyl was candid about that in today’s presser; click here and skip to 6:15 for the key bit. Since most of the kids who qualify for the W-3 under ACHIEVE will remain in the U.S. and marry American citizens, they’ll end up with a path to citizenship anyway. It’ll just be a path already blazed by current law, not something novel and expedited cooked up by Democrats so that they can bank Latino votes as quickly as possible. Which explains why you’re already seeing reactions like this:
“Today’s Kyl/Hutchinson presser makes it clear that #ACHIEVE is no #DREAM Act. No path to citizenship, only second-class legal status,” tweeted immigration policy analyst Phil Wolgin.
That’s what Kyl and Hutchison get for trying to wear down Republican resistance to a limited amnesty. And there’ll be plenty more where that came from. There are many ways to challenge the basic precepts of ACHIEVE — a few weeks ago Mark Krikorian argued that it simultaneously did too much and too little — but the main liberal line of attack will be that it’s “cruel” to deny these kids their God-given right to elect Democrats by delaying their legal path to full citizenship. If Reid agrees to take this up next year, presumably it’ll only be because he thinks he can get McCain and Rubio and whoever else to bend a little on the citizenship point. But like I said when I wrote about this last time, I don’t understand why he’d agree to take this up when he could try to leverage Republican panic over electoral demographics and push for full comprehensive immigration reform instead. ACHIEVE is basically the GOP’s attempt to buy goodwill from Latino voters by passing the most limited amnesty possible for the most sympathetic illegal immigrant class. Reid would be a sucker to let them do that on the cheap. Demand comprehensive reform and some sort of path to citizenship, however elongated, as part of it, then after it passes immediately begin accusing all of the Republicans who just voted for it of hating illegals because they wouldn’t agree to citizenship on a faster track. The Democrats don’t care about work visas; they care about votes, and voting requires citizenship. The two least surprising sentences published in political media today, via National Journal: “Democrats are rejecting such an idea [ACHIEVE] for now, arguing that the concept would create an underclass of people in the United States if they don’t have full voting rights. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping for a broader bill that would address the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.”
Here’s video from the Caller. Kyl seems oddly taken with the procedural angle, that they’re doing things by the book constitutionally by trying to codify ACHIEVE instead of imposing the policy via executive fiat, as Obama did several months ago. So O exceeded his constitutional power by handing down this new rule, and now his punishment will be that … Congress will just enact his preferred policy for him anyway, with GOP help? (Kyl himself described ACHIEVE at today’s presser as being “not dissimilar” from Obama’s DREAM rule.) Go easy on the guy, Jon.