In November 2012, two Senate Republicans introduced the Achieve Act, legislation that could offer renewable work permits to undocumented young people living in the United States.
Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyle, both of whom are retiring in the near future, introduced the bill with support of Congressional Republicans but to a lukewarm response from Democrats.
With the election complete and President Obama in office for another four years, the hope is that immigration reform will be passed quickly in 2013. The introduction of the Achieve Act shows some movement from the Republican party on the topic of immigration.
What is the Achieve Act and how does it differ from the Dream Act?
What is the Achieve Act?
The Achieve Act is closely related to the Dream Act, which failed to pass the Senate due to Republican opposition in 2010. The Dream Act received support from the White House and Congressional Democrats, but Republicans opposed it, arguing that the bill rewarded illegal immigration.
Congressional Republicans effectively reworked the Dream Act by substantially limiting eligibility. The Achieve Act would only apply to undocumented young people who entered the United States while under the age of 14, and unlike the Dream Act, the Achieve Act does not provide any type of special pathway to citizenship for qualifying persons. Under the Acieve Act, immigrants would still have the right to pursue permanent residence/citizenship through the traditional channels.
Some immigration reform advocates have noted the Achieve Act’s significant limitations; if approved, the Act would only offer temporary work permits to about 1.2 million undocumented immigrants. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and some Democrats and activists note that the Achieve Act falls far short of the Dream Act’s goals.
It’s important to note that the Dream Act is NOT the same as Deferred Action. The Deferred Action bill stops the deportation of undocumented immigrants while they are in the US and trying to obtain legal immigration.
Republican Immigration Policies
Hutchison and Kyle admitted that the Achieve Act will probably not pass while they are members of the Senate due to the increased pro-immigrant momentum recently articulated this year.
However, it does indicate that Republicans have shifted their stance on the topic and scope of immigration reform. Voters saw Republicans presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s stance on immigration as unacceptable, and President Obama received somewhere from 70-75 percent of the Latino vote in the 2012 election. Romney’s controversial “self-deportation” policy garnered negative headlines in pro-immigration publications late in the election, and Congressional Republicans are looking for a way to redeem themselves with immigrant voters. The Achieve Act is a starting point.
The future for legal immigration is looking brighter with new immigration opportunities being discussed by all sides. Do you have questions about your status and wondering what immigration opportunities are best for your family? Contact us today, as qualified Denver immigration attorney, we can help you evaluate the options.