Moving to try to steal the immigration spotlight from Democrats, top Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced their own version of the Dream Act to grant young illegal immigrants legal rights — though it wouldn’t give them a special path to citizenship.
Sens. Jon Kyl, John McCain and Kay Bailey Hutchison, all senior Republicans, introduced the bill as a way to restart the immigration debate and to carve out a middle ground between sending illegal immigrants home or granting them green cards, which is the intermediate step to citizenship.
“We have got to get this ball rolling,” Mr. Kyl said. “We have to have a discussion that is sensible, that is calm.”
Their bill would give young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status as long as they are earning a college degree, serving in the military or, having completed those steps, are holding down a job.
But reaction from those on both sides was swift and negative.
Immigrant rights advocates said the senators’ legislation, without a pathway to citizenship, would create a group of second-class Americans. Those who favor a crackdown on illegal immigration said any legal status would reward lawbreaking and that it is essentially an amnesty.
Even if its chances are iffy, the legislation is symbolically significant on several fronts.