Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Newest Immigration Flashpoint: 'Dreamers'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Newest Immigration Flashpoint: 'Dreamers'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's surprise decision last summer to use executive authority to halt deportation of some immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children won raves from advocates stung by the defeat of similar legislative proposals in Congress.

Since then, the administration has granted more than 400,000 of those young immigrants temporary waivers to live and work in the United States, making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals one of largest legalization efforts in decades.

The popularity of the program has helped convince leading House Republicans to consider supporting legislation that would offer permanent legal status to the same subset of 1.7 million undocumented immigrants. GOP supporters said such a measure could help break a deadlock on Capitol Hill over comprehensive immigration reform.

But many advocates who once fought for the failed Dream Act, which would have provided the children a chance at citizenship, now say they would no longer be satisfied with legislation that would not include the vast majority of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. Many advocates worry that Republicans will pass a legalization program for children of illegal immigrants, and then use that as an excuse to kill broader reform efforts.

"We will not allow lawmakers to condemn our parents to second- class status," Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, said late last month. "Our parents' dreams enabled our dreams, and we owe our success to them and the sacrifices they made."

With Congress on summer recess until next month, the key question when lawmakers return remains how far House Republicans are willing to go to compromise with the Senate, which has approved a comprehensive plan that includes a 13-year path to citizenship for most immigrants.

Advocates have long put a priority on gaining legal status for the children of illegal immigrants, under the reasoning that most did not make the choice to enter the country illegally and have spent most of their lives here.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., echoed that rationale in announcing that they are developing legislation -- called the Kids Act -- that would offer legal status for the younger immigrants. …

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