Lawmakers from both parties have expressed new interest in comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, after Latino voters overwhelmingly supported President Obama in the presidential election. But the bill introduced on Tuesday by retiring Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), dubbed the ACHIEVE Act, is nothing more than a watered-down version of the bipartisan DREAM Act without a clear path to citizenship for those who would qualify under the measure.
Hutchison emphasized that the measure, which would require applicants to apply for three different visa programs over several years, does not offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It doesn’t allow them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the rules of our laws today,” she said during a press conference. “It doesn’t keep them from applying under the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.”
Kyl sought to dismiss the necessity of providing immigrants with a path to citizenship by suggesting that they should — unlawfully — marry U.S. citizens for immigration purposes:
KYL: Realistically, young people frequently get married. In this country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens. A U.S. citizen can petition for a spouse to become a citizen in a very short time…so I don’t think it’s any big secret that a lot of people who might participate in this program are going to have a very quick path to citizenship, if that’s the path they choose.
The senators admitted during a press conference that it is unlikely they will make much progress on this bill while they are still in the Senate. They said they wanted to begin the process and let other senators take up the effort after the lame duck session. The ACHIEVE Act is reportedly based on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) working draft of a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act, an idea he floated last summer. So far Rubio is not a co-sponsor of this bill.