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SCHEDULING NOTE: Roundtable will air at 89.5 FM at 12:30 p.m. today, instead of noon.

Lame Duck GOP Senators Introduce Immigration Bill, But With No Path To Citizenship

Audio

Aired 11/27/12

The Achieve Act would provide legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but would not create a special path to citizenship.

— Despite concern that the Republican Party's stance on immigration is alienating a fast-growing population of Latinos, immigration reform is still a tricky proposition for GOP politicians. That puts lame duck Republican Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas in a good position to introduce the Achieve Act.

The Achieve Act would create three levels of visas for immigrants brought here illegally as children who complete college or serve in the military, and then spend several years working in the U.S.

Ultimately, they would end up with a permanent non-immigrant visa renewable every four years. The bill offers no special path to citizenship.

At a press conference, Senator Jon Kyl said this legislation is better than executive action, like the deferred deportation program President Barack Obama introduced this summer.

"In our country, if you don't like the law? Change it, or seek to change it," Kyl said. "Don't violate it. For a civilian, that's called civil disobedience. For the President, it's called violating your oath of office!"

Even though the bill addresses a long-simmering problem, it may have trouble winning over activists who've fought for passage of the DREAM Act. That law, proposed several times over the past decade, would create a path to citizenship for young immigrants without legal status who earn a degree or serve in the military.

Reyna Montoya is vice president of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. She thinks Republicans, like Kyl and Hutchison, need to support more comprehensive immigration reform.

"Let’s not forget that the DREAM Act had bipartisan support back in 2001," Montoya said. "I think the Republican Party has seen Latinos are not turning out to vote for them because of the anti-Immigrant rhetoric, but at the same time, the conversation is still very conservative and they're not trying to be open."

Kyl and Hutchison say they're working with other Republican Senators who will continue to serve next year, including Arizona Senator John McCain and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

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