Indeed, the ACHIEVE Act complicates an issue that the Republican senators have admitted is “a strong starting point” and “a humanitarian issue.” For example, for Dreamers interested in serving this country, a strange visa such as the "W-1" status does not currently let someone join the military voluntarily, so unless they also amend the law to allow such persons to enlist, the ACHIEVE Act won't help much.
Republicans lost Latinos big this election, but some have already committed themselves to fight against the DREAM Act no matter how popular it is. And using the ACHIEVE Act is a way to avoid a solution and politicize the issue. The fight for a common sense immigration reform will not be easy; and this fight is not only for undocumented youth, but also for the parents who took the brave step to give these young people a better life. Nevertheless, undocumented youth will not give up on the DREAM Act.
There are indications up and down the Republican Party that show they need to change direction and fast; for example, Tea Party conservative Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he supports a path to citizenship. Even Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.), who voted no on the DREAM Act in 2010, recently indicated that Republicans “should start with the Dream Act bill.” Republicans are in shambles trying to decide what their new platforms should be. This is an opportunity for undocumented youth to demand what is fair of a party that needs to make peace with the fact that it will need to give much more up to coalition politics, and they know that Obama could not have won without Latinos.
If Republicans want to show they are willing to find a solution on immigration, lets make the DREAM Act a starting point. The DREAM Act has polled more than 90% amongst Latinos according to Latino Decisions, and recently polled majority support from the general public according to ABC News. The ACHIEVE Act, similar to Rubio’s bill, has less support and less popular than the DREAM Act.
Vargas is director of the DREAM (DRM) Action Coalition and national activist for the DREAM Act.