On November 27, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyl introduced the Assisting Children and Helping them Improve their Educational Value for Employment Act (ACHIEVE Act) as an alternative to the DREAM Act. The proposal would establish a special visa system for immigrants who entered the United States as children without proper immigration procedures, granting those who wished to pursue a college or technical degree or serve in the U.S. military a W-1 Visa. DREAMers, however, do not support the bill as a viable solution for undocumented immigrants, preferring the DREAM Act instead.
There are several major differences between the DREAM Act and the ACHIEVE Act. The DREAM Act required beneficiaries to have been under 16-years-old when they entered the United States and currently under the age of 30. The ACHIEVE Act, on the other hand, requires applicants to have been younger than 14-years-old when they were brought to the U.S., and currently under 28 (or under 32, if they have obtained a bachelor’s degree). Both proposals require good moral characters, a high school diploma or GED, five years of continuous presence in the United States, and background checks, but the ACHIEVE Act would also require beneficiaries to check in with the Department of Homeland Security every six months. In addition, ACHIEVE Act applicants would have to demonstrate knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, and the principles of the U.S. government. The additional limitations make the proposition unappealing.
Essentially, opponents reject the ACHIEVE Act because it fails to provide a special pathway to citizenship, as the DREAM Act would have done. Instead, under the ACHIEVE Act beneficiaries are given three special visas for legal status, eventually allowing them to be on the regular path toward potential citizenship and permanent residency.
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