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Retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Takes On Immigration Reform

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Josue Mendoza of Fort Worth says he was brought here by his parents from Mexico when he was just five.

“Even though my roots are from Mexico, I grew up in Texas.”

He went to public school here, graduated from college, and is now studying mechanical engineering in graduate school at UT Arlington.

But because his parents came here illegally, the 23 year old can’t get a driver’s license, and always worries he could be deported.

“Here in the United States, I feel like this is my country. I keep up with American politics, I keep up with American sports, I speak English in my home, you know I eat American food.”

He says he’s encouraged by a new bill introduced by retiring Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Republican Senators John Kyl and John McCain of Arizona.

Under their bill, called the Achieve Act, those eligible were brought here before they were 14, and are now under 28. They would have to go through a three- step process.

To get a W-1 visa, they would need six years of college or an advanced tech degree, or four years in the U.S. military.

After that, they would need a W-2 visa, to qualify them for four years of work.

Then, a W-3 visa, which would be renewable every four years, as long as they qualify with all terms.

Senator Hutchison says, “We think the best thing we can do to utilize their talents and education they received is to give them legal status.”

But Senator Hutchison says the achieve act doesn’t give young people an automatic route to U.S. citizenship.

Mendoza’s attorney, Francisco Hernandez of Fort Worth, says he had hoped the legislation would go further, but that it’s a good start.

Some Democrats are already calling the Republican senators’ legislation a non-starter.

Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas issued a statement saying, “Today, senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyle introduced the achieve act, legislation to address the issue of undocumented children who were brought to the U.S. illegally. While I have not reviewed the legislation filed today, I believe we must focus our efforts on passing comprehensive immigration reform instead of only attempting to address fragments of the problem. My understanding is that this legislation focuses on young, undocumented immigrants and fails to address a number of other concerns that must be included in order to fully repair our flawed immigration system. Issues such as securing our border and revamping our visa system must also be an integral part of the discussion. Unlike the dream act, which I strongly support, the achieve act does not provide a path to citizenship. I support the dream act because it is common sense immigration reform.”

The Dream Act would grant citizenship to more than one million undocumented immigrants if they were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16, if they have been here for at least five years, and if they graduated from high school, joined the military, or attended college.

Tea Party member Katrina Pierson is also criticizing Senator Hutchison’s bill, accusing Republicans of pandering to Hispanics.

“We experimented with amnesty in the past, and we see that still hasn’t quite worked out. They’re talking about offering visas and work visas, we can’t keep up with the visas we already have.”

Spokesmen for Texas’ other senator, John Cornyn, and Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz, say they are still reviewing the new legislation.

As for Josue Mendoza, he says, “I think you just have to look at people as people and not as some aliens.”

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