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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Columns

Republican bill fails to achieve the dream


Kathleen Kennedy | The Daily Cougar

Since the brutal GOP defeat this election season, Republicans have been dreaming of quick fixes. According to an impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll, President Barack Obama won 75 percent of the growing Latino vote, which ultimately helped Obama win his re-election. This reality of significance in Latinos has hit the Republicans on the head.

Republicans are now scrambling to make revised versions of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which is the most important piece of legislation to Latino voters. One version circulating among Republicans in the weeks following the election is the Achieve Act. Though in the instance of serving the Latino interest, it is better to dream than achieve.

In May, Republican Sen. David Rivera proposed the second version of a bill that would compete with the DREAM Act, called the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act.

In January, he introduced a similar version called the Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act. The STARS Act differed from the DREAM Act because it would only apply to undocumented students who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and who have gotten their high school diploma, kept out of trouble and been accepted to a four-year university. This select group would then be eligible to apply for a five-year student visa, and if they graduate from their institution, would then be able to apply to stay longer and be put on a path for legal status.

It was no surprise Republicans re-introduced another version of this bill. Several Republicans understood that without a step in the immigration reform doorway, they would not attract Hispanic votes.

This thought wasn’t analogous throughout the party. The STARS Act was met with mixed support from Republicans. Few supported the bill while many others were outraged at the thought of creating a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented students. The bill was quickly overshadowed by the negative support within the party. A few months later, another version of this bill was re-introduced when they realized importance of the Hispanic vote.

Because of the pressures from fellow party members to bring back more of the Latino vote, Republicans, fresh from their defeat, introduced the Achieve Act a few weeks after elections. Although exact details aren’t posted about the bill, according to The Huffington Post, sources say the bill is a bipartisan solution, and this bill could lead to undocumented students obtaining citizenship.

Many Republicans are already rewriting versions of this bill. Republicans are unsure of whether giving these students a pathway to citizenship reflects the party’s core values, which is why their scrambling is unconvincing. All of these rewrites show the party is clearly divided on this issue, which does not reflect any Latino interest.

In addition to the immediate conflicting response to the Achieve Act, the bill is also not an answer to the immigration reform Latinos want. What Latinos want to see is a secure pathway to citizenship created for these undocumented students, which is reflected in the DREAM Act. It is clear this thought disturbs Republicans. When the STARS Act was introduced, it was quickly dismissed. Every new competing version of the DREAM Act that is introduced by Republicans is becoming more limited and restricted in obtaining this pathway.

Republicans need to realize that Latinos in this country will not budge on the DREAM Act solely because it seeks to create a secure legal status for undocumented youth. They can re-introduce 100 versions of this bill, but it will never be enough. Republicans can either begin agreeing with the other party members who want to create a secure pathway or ultimately lose the Latino interest — and they cannot afford that.

Maria Romero is a print journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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