Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is apparently seeking to pass a “lesser version” of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill which would provide young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents with a path to legalization once they fulfill the necessary education or military service requirements. Hutchison voted against the DREAM Act this past December despite the fact that undocumented students were hunger striking in front of her office for weeks. Now, she’s suggesting that she supports the DREAM Act and always has — without the citizenship clause. The San Antonio Express News reports:
Hutchison, R-Texas, told the San Antonio group that she could not support legislation that includes “amnesty” provisions of citizenship, which was included in the DREAM Act. Instead, she said, she wants a bill that would protect foreign-born students and those who serve in the military from being deported — but would not want them to receive automatic citizenship here.
“To me, it is a clear-cut issue that we should not deport young people who have been educated in our school, who many times have a college education, who we encourage to go to college,” Hutchison said. [...]
Hutchison said she did not support the DREAM Act because of the citizenship provision — a key component in the bill supported by Democrats, Latino rights organizations and immigration advocacy groups. “But I’m working on a new DREAM Act proposal because I think there is a group of people who had no part in coming into this country illegally,” Hutchison said.
What’s odd about Hutchison’s statements is that the DREAM Act that was proposed in December did not include a citizenship provision to begin with. Even the San Antonio Express News journalist who reported on the story got it wrong. The DREAM Act would’ve given qualifying undocumented immigrants the opportunity to adjust their illegal status. A “path to legalization” isn’t just a talking point as the people who cry amnesty always claim. It’s actually what the bill provides. The legislation which Hutchison opposed just a couple of months ago would’ve granted young undocumented immigrants conditional nonimmigrant status for ten years. After that, once all the criteria are met, they could have obtained lawful permanent resident status. If they wanted to become citizens, they would have had to wait another three years to apply and go through all the naturalization steps just as any other immigrant does.
Hutchison isn’t the only politician who has apparently never read the DREAM Act. Newt Gingrich (R) and Howard Dean (D) recently debated the merits of the legislation based on the mistaken presumption that the DREAM Act conferred citizenship. “You can not give citizenship to people who — you can not jump past millions of people around the planet who are obeying the law, waiting their turn to come here,” declared Gingrich. “I would support finding a way for residency…if you have come here under certain circumstances and you were clearly a minor,” he confirmed. “Residency is very different than citizenship.” Indeed, it is and the DREAM Act makes that distinction.
Of course the difference between Gingrich and Hutchison is that that Hutchison apparently voted on a bill that she didn’t bother to understand. (Gingrich just chooses to ignorantly debate the legislation). With that said, Hutchison’s turnabout is a welcomed move. Hopefully, if she does introduce some sort of DREAM Act legislation, she’ll encourage all of her Republican colleagues to actually read it.