Republican U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, and John Kyl, R-Ariz., both retiring this year, have partnered with Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., to introduce a federal immigration bill, the ACHIEVE Act, to supplant the long-stalled DREAM Act (Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors).
The Republican bill offers a compromise on the status of children brought illegally into the United States.
The bill’s authors contend that the ACHIEVE Act can begin a process of immigration reform in the United States that follows constitutional order rather than presidential fiat, such as that issued by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, from the White House Rose Garden.
The Obama policy creates “deferred deportations” for illegal alien youths. By temporarily deferring such deportations in the midst of his re-election campaign, the president chose to bypass the legislative branch of government, where Democrats have failed repeatedly to pass the DREAM Act.
In contrast to the Obama policy that offers temporary legal status to children brought illegally into the United States, the ACHIEVE Act would allow illegal alien youths who meet defined qualifications to apply for legal permanent residency status (LPR).
Most senators and congressmen realize that no comprehensive immigration reform is likely to pass either chamber in the foreseeable future. The problem is that ultra-left Hispanic groups and immigrant advocates, unions, and other Democrat special-interest groups insist on open borders and automatic citizenship for illegal aliens.
U.S. citizens, even those who voted for Obama, are hesitant about an immigration policy that would throw open U.S. borders to foreign nationals.
Thus Republicans likely will push for piecemeal immigration reform, with the ACHIEVE Act as an opening salvo followed by the House of Representatives passing a Republican-sponsored STEM Jobs Act (STEM standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Senator Kyl has stated, “It’s a way to begin the conversation in a calm and reasonable way.” He noted that the ACHIEVE Act would change the law, rather than dancing around the problem like Obama’s “deferred deportation” gambit.
On November 30, 2012, the STEM Jobs Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives with a rare bipartisan vote. The bill would reallocate 55,000 “green cards” granting legal permanent residency to foreigners earning graduate STEM degrees from U.S. universities.
It also would provide family-unity consideration for families of green card holders. Critics, among them Democrat politicians, say the STEM Jobs Act would discriminate against Africans, as it would do away with the Diversity Visa Lottery that favors African immigrants.
The response to the ACHIEVE Act and the STEM Jobs Act by liberal Democrats and some Hispanic leaders has been swift and vocal. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., in a televised interview postured that “We won” the election, and the Hispanic community will settle for nothing but complete immigration reform on Hispanic terms.
Gutierrez attacked the ACHIEVE Act and the STEM Jobs Act and made it clear that the president and congressional Democrats owe members of the Hispanic community big time, as they delivered the election to Obama.
The Hispanic Congressional leadership and the Democratic coalition demand citizenship for all illegal aliens, now and in the future. The DREAM Act advocates demand healthcare, nutrition subsidies, and tuition reductions.
Democrats attack the ACHIEVE Act as creating “second-class Americans” out of “American” youths. A Democrat congressman joined radicals who shout that the STEM Jobs Act is “racist.” A radical union official yelled, “We won. We call the shots, not some old white guys. This is our country now, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
A Latino union official is quoted as saying, “The Latino giant is wide awake, cranky, and taking names.” He noted that Obama was not kidding when he said, “Vote for revenge.”
The radical left declares that in all areas, including immigration, they will take no prisoners. One Obama administration official offered that they were about to kick off the most sweeping changes in immigration policy in decades, ignoring Republican efforts for an agreement.
Labor unions, including those with large illegal-alien memberships, are picketing Walmart stores, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and a McDonald’s in New York City, to name a few. These pickets demand union control of hiring and firing and even corporate decision-making authority.
The White House chooses to disregard the fact Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives and that constitutionally, the House is an equal partner with the Democrat-controlled Senate. For any bill to become law, it must pass both chambers of Congress and then be signed by the president. Republicans thus suggest that a sequential immigration reform program, rather than a comprehensive one, will work best.
Republicans are setting forth legislation that will end the present immigration anarchy rather than making unfulfilled promises. As Washington Post writer Esther Cepeda suggests, immigrant advocacy groups should be open-minded and flexible and listen to all offers, including the STEM Job Act and the proposed ACHIEVE Act.
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
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