Sen. Marco Rubio while in Iowa on Saturday told reporters that he has been circulating a draft of a Dream Act alternative and received positive feedback. His office declined to provide a copy but said it mirrors this "Achieve Act" that popped up on Capitol Hill late last week.
The one-page draft, apparently leaked as a trial balloon, would be limited to college-educated immigrants or those who serve in the military and ultimately result in a "non-conditional, nonimmigrant visa."
In other words, no special pathway to citizenship, as the Dream Act would provide. Rubio and others hope this sidesteps the "amnesty" question but some on the right don't see it that way. Democrats, meanwhile, feel post-election momentum to push for the regular Dream Act. (The New York Times on Sunday urged President Obama to seek broad reform)
The Achieve Act is the work of retiring Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyl. They had been working on the idea for a while before Rubio entered the picture. Rubio worked with them as he pursued a similar idea.
"It's worth noting that Sen. Rubio is still developing his legislation and hasn't made any decisions on when to introduce it," spokesman Alex Conant said. "Our goal all along has been to introduce something that we're confident will earn broad, bipartisan support and be signed into law."
The plan calls for W-1 visas for people who attend college or serve in the military. They must have lived in the U.S. for five years and entered before age 14 and be younger than 28 (or 32 if they have a bachelor's degree already). The visa holders would have to check in every six months with the Department of Homeland Security, could not get "public welfare benefits" or federal student loan or work study.
If completing that, a person could get a W-2 visa, a four-year permit to work or seek a higher degree. When that expires, they could apply for the permanent nonimmigrant visa.