Immigrants and Politicians Weigh in Republican Alternative to Dream Act

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

The Dream Act was a bill that failed in Washington.

It would have provided a path to citizenship for children brought to this country illegally.

Republican senators Hailey Bay Hutchison and John Kyl are proposing a new version of it called the Achieve Act.

The main difference between the two is that the Achieve Act does not guarantee citizenship.

Under the Achieve Act, illegal immigrants receive a temporary legal standing, if they meet the qualifications.

Isabel Castillo is a big advocate for the Dream Act.

The Dream Act allows those who qualify apply for citizenship.

While she doesn't agree with this new bill, she said it's a step forward.

Isabel Castillo is looking into the achieve act.

"It's not the best but It's better than nothing," Castillo said.

The applicants have to be under 14 when they come to the United States and have lived here for five years.

The Dream Act's age requirements are for people 16 years old or younger who have lived in the U.S. five years before the bill would go into effect.

"I'm glad that this conversation is starting. We're more than happy to work with the Republican party or with any kind of party," Castillo said.

Virginia's 20th District Delegate Dickie Bell said this bill is better than the Dream Act.

"I don't favor blanket amnesty," Bell said.

The Achieve Act will give applicants visas to stay in the U.S. legally.

If applicants complete two years of college or serve in the military for four years.

Under the Achieve Act, people would be eligible for a work, student or permanent non-immigrant visa.

Those who qualify and are interested in U.S. Citizenship would have to apply for a Green card as other immigrants do.

"I do think there is an obligation for anybody that wants to remain in this country as a legal citizen to meet some requirements," Bell said.

Castillo said she prefers the Dream Act because it helps more people, like herself.

Under the Dream Act, applicants can be from 12 to 25 years of age and are not disqualified for misdemeanors.

However, under the Achieve Act Castillo wouldn't qualify because she's 28 years-old, which is the age limit of the program.

She also said she had two misdemeanors. The Achieve Act limits it to one.

The achieve act limits it to one.

"If it's for those civil disobedience I wouldn't qualify," she said.

Castillo says the bill will favor only some people.

"For this bill, the negative is that doesn't cover everyone. We have 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and this is just for a select group of people," Castillo said.

Bell said the Achieve act could use some changes before passing.

I think we should look into ways to make it less restrictive not more restrictive.

Castillo said she thinks that Republicans might have realized the importance of the Latino vote in November's elections.

But she said she hopes, it's more than just a political stunt.

"I think it's time for both parties to stop playing politics and to realize that these are human lives that you're dealing with and something needs to happen," Castillo said.

Bell said November elections helped Republicans recognize some points they need to work on.

" In some sense, the timing of it indicates that the Republicans recognize the importance of it. But the act itself has been in the works for a while," Bell said.

Both said the bill is unlikely to pass because there are not many days left in the lame duck session.

Bell said the bill also has already some opponents, making it difficult to pass.

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