Three influential U.S. senators have introduced a Republican version of the DREAM Act.
The bill would provide a pathway for young people who came to the United States without inspection at the border (i.e., unlawfully) and who complete military service or higher education and work in the United States for at least four years to become permanent residents.
But not citizenship.
Called the "Achieve Act", the bill would provide a permanent residence visa (often called a "green card") to people younger than 28 who were brought to the United
States prior to reaching age 14. It would be made available to young people who do not have serious
criminal records and who agree not to apply for federal government benefits, including
federal student loans.
That's like saying, "Sure, kid, you can take my car, but I'm keeping the keys."
None of the armed services allows illegal aliens to enlist. And these young people are the children of middle income parents, so prohibiting them from obtaining student loans is the same as locking them out of the classroom.
Two of the three Republican senators -- John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) -- are on their way out of the Senate. It was McCain who worked closely with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in years past to draft comprehensive immigration reform, which has gone nowhere in this do-nothing Congress.
In stark contrast, the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) would provide a path to citizenship for young people who have lived in the United States for at least five years prior to the date of enactment of the bill. If they complete two years of military service or two years of higher education, they would obtain temporary legal residence for a six-year period.
During that six-year period, they may obtain permanent residence if they complete military service and obtain an honorable discharge or complete a higher education degree program.
The DREAM Act's chief sponsor in the Senate is Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Supporters of the DREAM Act say it would simply extend legal residence to good American kids who came to the United States without the capacity to commit a misdemeanor by crossing the border without inspection. Critics call it "amnesty."
I don't call Congress's failure to pass the DREAM act "stupid", but I certainly don't think this failure is smart immigration policy. Neither is Congress's failure to allocate more immigrant visas for highly skilled workers.