Perhaps no phrase carries more political baggage in today’s dialogue than “a path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants. Indeed, this issue explains why so much of today’s immigration reform talks have fallen apart.
But that may soon change thanks to a new bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) that would provide path to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, however, is not some flippant opening of the floodgates. The bill provides immigrants that have been vetted by the Department of Homeland Security with three pathways toward legalization: higher education, service in the armed forces or work authorization. Applicants would then go through a five-year conditional status, after which they would be able to reapply for a five-year permanent status.
“Over the years many immigrant children have arrived in our country — brought by their parents who either illegally crossed one of our borders or overstayed their visa,” Curbelo said in a press release. “For most of these young people, the Untied States is the only country they have ever called home. They attended school with our children, graduated high school and today they are seeking to serve in our military, pursue a college degree or certificate and contribute to our economy by working.”
“For most of these young people, the Untied States is the only country they have ever called home. They attended school with our children, graduated high school and today they are seeking to serve in our military, pursue a college degree or certificate and contribute to our economy by working.”
Thus far, the bill has earned the endorsement of Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez (R-Puerto Rico), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), David Reichert (R-Wash.), and David G. Valada (R-Calif.).
“It’s so important to recognize that young people who were brought here as children, who grew up here, went to school here, and who often know of no other country, be allowed to legally remain in the United States,” Coffman said, echoing the sentiment of the bill’s numerous co-sponsors. “Let’s give them a chance to achieve the American Dream through work, education or military service, and to help us together build a stronger America.”
Read the bill in full here.
Evan Smith is a Staff Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @Evansmithreport.