At the tail end of 2012 and of their careers, retiring Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced the ACHIEVE Act, which would provide legal status to a narrow group of undocumented youth. However, this proposal does nothing to appeal to Latin@s because it provides no real path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Whereas the DREAM Act provides undocumented youth with legal permanent residence and then citizenship, the ACHIEVE Act offers a W-1 visa, which leads to a W-2, and then a W-3, with no direct path to citizenship.
Although Hutchison calls this proposal her version of the DREAM Act, it is not. The core purpose of the DREAM Act, first proposed in 2001, is to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youth, who are Americans in all ways but one–legal citizenship rights.
The ACHIEVE Act had no chance of passing in the lame-duck session, yet Hutchison and Kyl hope their successors, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), will take it on when the new Senate convenes. They want this bill–not the DREAM Act–to be the basis for negotiations, with “no citizenship” as their bottom line.
This isn’t going to work. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 86 percent of Latinos in the United States believe that migrants to this country–even unauthorized ones–deserve a chance to become citizens. This belief is shared by 72 percent of all Americans. It is the core of true immigration reform; the rest is just bells and whistles.
A path to citizenship is the politically astute route; it is also the only route that is not morally bankrupt.