Washington, D.C. -House Republicans have vowed to take on immigration reform in a series of smaller bills and that includes addressing the plight of millions of young immigrants who languish in undocumented status after they were brought here illegally by their parents.
Under the KIDS Act, which has been approved by House Republicans, a small fraction of the estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 will be given a shot at legal status and eventual citizenship. Their parents, however, are a different story; they will be given no opportunity for legal status.
“I do not believe that parents who made the decision to illegally enter the U.S. while forcing their children to join them should be afforded the same treatment as these kids,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said at an immigration subcommittee hearing, according to the Huffington Post. “Because let’s be clear — parents bringing their young children to the U.S. illegally is not something we want to encourage.”
The committee hearing Tuesday came after House Republicans said they were willing to introduced legislation that would address the issue of young undocumented immigrants. Few details of the legislation, tentatively entitled KIDS Act, have been released, but there are reports that it could include an earlier cut-off age.
Even though few details of the KIDS Act has been released, it is already receiving a great deal of criticism from Democrats and immigration advocacy groups.
Dreamers reject the notion of giving them legal status while ignoring their parents. A scathing piece appearing in the Spanish language paper La Opinion slammed House Republicans for the KIDS Act.
“Family values are a pillar of traditional Republican discourse,” the newspaper wrote. “But as soon as it comes time to address immigration issues, all of their emphasis on family unity goes out the window, replaced by advocacy for division.”
The paper also suspects that the KIDS Act is way for House Republicans to make political points after facing intense pressure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The White took the same position as La Opinion. In a Tuesday press conference, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Republican approach “would avoid the essential responsibility to address immigration reform in a comprehensive way. And what La Opinion makes clear is that a bill that would allow some so-called DREAMers to stay in this country… but then deport their parents is hardly a workable solution.”
One of the main issues that the comprehensive immigration reform bill was meant to address is the legal status of close to 11 million undocumented immigrants who are working and living in the U.S.
The most viable solution to this problem, aside from hunting down and deporting millions of people, was to give many of these individuals the opportunity to apply for legal status and eventual citizenship after a 13 year wait. This pathway to citizenship has been a sticking point for Republican who says it rewards bad actors and proves to be the largest hurdle in achieving immigration reform. Although a majority of Americans agree that a pathway to citizenship is the morally right thing to do, Republicans are willing to kill the broader legislation over the issue and will allow millions of people to languish in the shadows of legal status.