Details about the GOP’s alternative to the DREAM Act emerge

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

The Daily Caller has obtained details of an ACHIEVE Act proposal being floated by some Senate Republicans.

It appears similar to the conservative alternative to the Dream Act that Sen. Marco Rubio worked on last summer (before President Obama issued his executive order, effectively tabling the issue until after the election).

Essentially, the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.)

Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship “could follow…”

Below are a few of the details being floated to be eligible for the W-1 visa:

– “Applicant must have lived in the U.S. for five year’s prior to the Act’s enactment”;

– Must have entered the country before age 14

– Must have good moral character

– “Applicant must not have committed a felony, must not have committed more than one misdemeanor with a jail term of more than 30 days, must not have committed a crime of moral turpitude, and must not have a final order of removal pending”‘

– Must have knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, “and of principles of U.S. government”

– Applicant must be 28 or younger at time of application (or 32 if they have a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college);

–  Must pay a $525 fee

– Must submit to a medical exam and a background check, submit biometric and biographic data, and register with the Selective Service.

My take: Children who grew up in the U.S. but are undocumented, become — not just a legal issue — but also (as Rubio has said) a humanitarian one.

Many conservatives, of course, opposed the DREAM Act because it creates a special pathway to citizenship, allowing illegal immigrants to get in line ahead of other immigrants who are following the rules, and potentially creating a problem of chain migration.

The ACHIEVE Act seems to resolve this problem by granting undocumented children nonimmigrant visas so that they can go to school and work in the U.S., and, after a decade, or so, puts them on the regular pathway towards permanent residence (and potentially, citizenship.)

It will be interesting to see how this is greeted…

Matt K. Lewis