By Elizabeth Berg
Stepping out of the retired life, former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R) sat down with prospective journalists at Arizona State University’s Summer Journalism Institute for a brief news conference. Kyl touted his continuous support for the Achieve Act to the young reporters despite his exit from political office.
After Kyl and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s (R-Texas) original proposition to create an alternative for the Dream Act in 2012, the Republicans’ bill has yet to pass in congress. However, that has not trumped Kyl’s support of the original idea.
“It would allow children to be on the path to a future as a U.S. citizen,” said Kyl.
The proposal requires immigrants to be under the age of 28 and pursue a degree in higher education or a career in the military. It was intended as an alternative to the Dream Act proposed by Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Orrin Hatch (R) in 2001. Kyl also rejected Durbin’s reboot of the Dream Act, calling it “sloppy” and “full of draft mistakes.”
Arizona organizations, such as the Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC), have publicly denied their support for the Achieve Act.
“They are separating families. It is unjust separation,” said Alejalejandra Sanchez, ADAC member.
Arizona has been a leading state in defiance to their former senator’s immigration reform bill. Advocates like Lydia Guzman have become the voice for many immigrants fighting for their rights.
Guzman, the national immigration committee chair for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), sends texts and tweets alerting Hispanics of immigration raids going on locally.
“Cops are killing all kinds of people today,” tweeted Guzman on April 19.
Despite widespread protest by the Hispanic community, Kyl believes immigration reform will provide those who qualify the ability to become a citizen.
“There is a pretty broad consensus that at a minimum they [children brought to the US illegally] should have a legal status,” said Kyl, “My guess is that it will be part of the immigration reform.”
On the other hand, these rights come with a price. Still undeclared, this fee will have to be paid, as well as other qualifications met, in order to appeal to the Achieve Act. Those in support of the DREAM Act speak out about why they feel so strongly about immigration reform.
“We are pushing for immigration because of the momentum, and we have never been this close in a very long time,” said ADAC treasurer Maria Castro.
Kyl recognizes that “most people who run for office do it for the right reasons,” but immigration reform has not been put on the back burner as of yet. Even in retirement, Kyl is still considers himself conservative. His transition into the life of law in Washington and a teaching degree at ASU in tax law is free of all complications regarding immigration reform. However, it will continue to take precedence for Hispanic citizens and non-citizens until demands are met.
“We’re making a call for the committee so the dreamers cannot be afraid and to get out of the shadows. The dreamers opened a lot of doors for us, and now it’s our [the next generation’s] turn to make a difference,” said Sanchez.