Outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide legal status for immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors.
The bill, called the Achieve Act, is co-authored by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona. It would create a new visa system affecting "young people who intend to pursue a technical or college degree, or serve in the U.S. military," according to a statement on Hutchison's website.
Hutchison, who will leave Washington next year after serving in the U.S. Senate since 1993, concedes that the legislation is not comprehensive immigration reform but says it is nonetheless a "step forward in addressing a time-sensitive issue."
The bill is evidence that the Republican Party is becoming more focused on working toward a solution on immigration following this month's general election, which analysts have said favored Democrats due, in part, to the GOP's harsh stances on immigration. Hutchison is clear, however, that the proposal does not guarantee citizenship.
"Many young people in this country are here illegally through no fault of their own. Relegating a potentially productive portion of the population to the shadows is neither humane nor good economic or social policy," the senators said in a joint statement. "Only individuals who have abided by our nation's laws, while residing within its borders, would be eligible for continued legal status, and there is no automatic path to citizenship."
The bill has similarities to the current "deferred action" policy put in place by President Obama this year, but it's not clear how the proposal would work along with that policy.
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