Youth-immigrant advocacy group opposes measures to help young illegals

A group that poses as a champion for young illegal immigrants is actively trying to stop immigration reforms that would provide short-term help to those young illegals.

The group, United We Dream (UWD), is closely tied to various powerful business interests and progressive groups.

The small-scale reforms “are cynical gestures … [and are not] true commitment to work for real change,” Lorella Praeli, the policy director for UWD, told reporters Dec. 3.

“Real change” consists of a mass amnesty, said Cristina Jimenez, the managing director the group. But that “will be a long struggle,” she admitted. (RELATED: UWD demands President Barack Obama work with Congress on immigration reform)

The “Dream” in UWD’s title refers to the 11-year-old Dream Act, which was intended to provide an amnesty for younger illegals. The bill has been repeatedly voted down in Congress, amid weak support from the public but strong support from business groups, progressives and certain liberal-leaning media outlets.

But the GOP demonstrated its willingness to offer immigration concessions Nov. 30, when House Republicans pushed through a bill that would please the high-tech and education sectors by offering work visas to 50,000 high-skill workers.

Nearly all GOP representatives supported the STEM measure, even though it would import large numbers of foreigners to compete against American college grads already working — or seeking jobs — in the high-tech sector.

Most Democrats also supported the new high-tech visas, but voted against the measure because it would also have required ending the annual award of 50,000 visas to low-skill immigrants through the so-called “Diversity Lottery.”

“We support the concept of the STEM-legislation, which is for high-skill visas,” said Praeli. “What we don’t support is trading that in for the diversity lottery.”

The lottery is strongly supported by progressives and ethnic and Islamic lobbies, because it awards visas to people with few skills or family connections.