Some moderation on young illegal residents emerges
One of the first signs that the wall against immigration reform may be crumbling came this week with Arizona's U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl co-sponsored a bill to provide a path to legal status for children brought to this country by illegal immigrants.
It was something of a surprise coming from Kyl, a Republican leader. Although he has been somewhat moderate on immigration issues in the past, recently he has been taking a more hard-line stance on the issue. It may be that he is returning to moderation because he is retiring from the Senate this year.
The proposed law is called the Achieve Act, signifying that the youths it is aimed at will have to take proactive steps and be proven to be productive, law-abiding members of society in order to gain legal status over time through a visa system. The process would start by requiring applicants to obtain a college degree or serve in the military.
It contrasts with the so-called DREAM Act supported by some members of Congress, including one of Arizona's U.S. House members, Raul Grijalva, who represents part of Yuma County. The DREAM Act has similar goals except it provides a path not only to legal status, but also to citizenship.
Strong opponents of illegal immigration will likely describe the Kyl bill as being “soft” on the issue and providing “amnesty” for those here illegally, just as they have done with the DREAM Act.
Some are noting that Kyl will no longer be in office to guide the Achieve Act to passage and the senator acknowledges others will have to do that. It will undoubtedly face strong opposition.
Interestingly, Republican Jeff Flake, a past hard-liner on illegal immigration who is replacing Kyl in the Senate, seems to also be moderating his position, describing the Achieve Act as a “good starting point.” He also told the Cronkite News Service that young people brought here illegally have to be treated “realistically and humanely.”
Republicans, who received very little support from our country's growing Hispanic population in the last election, appear to be getting the message that this is an issue that cannot be ignored.