On November 27, 2012, retiring U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) introduced the “Achieve Act,” a bill that would grant a limited form of legal status to some undocumented youth.
Unlike the Dream Act, which would grant a pathway to citizenship for individuals who entered the United States before age 16, have lived in the country continuously for at least five years, and have graduated from high school or the equivalent or joined the military, the Achieve Act would grant only temporary visas to those eligible, without the ability to apply for permanent residence or citizenship. The Achieve Act would also preclude access to federal benefits, such as student loans and public welfare, and has very significant travel restrictions.
Immigrant advocates and “Dreamers” across the country are rejecting the bill as a “watered down” version of the Dream Act, as without a path to citizenship it would ultimately be a dead end for young people in this country. While undocumented foreign nationals who have grown up in the United States and have been educated here most of their lives could work legally and pay their taxes with valid social security numbers, they would not be rewarded as their American counterparts are with representation in the government and the full benefits of citizenship.
Needless to say, the Achieve Act has not received much support from either Democrats or Republicans, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not yet indicated whether the Senate plans to take up the bill. Additionally, with so few days remaining of the current lame-duck session, it is doubtful the bill will advance any further in Congress.