This is a crying shame. My friend Paul Parsons, an excellent immigration lawyer in Austin, shared this exchange with me last night:
From: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 5:50 PM
To: Paul Parsons
Subject: Constituent Response From Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 3992, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
On November 30, 2010, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced this bill, which would allow for a 10-year conditional non-immigrant visa that would lead to eventual citizenship. Once they become U.S. citizens, these individuals would by law be able to petition for family members to also gain citizenship. This would therefore expand citizenship beyond the intended students. Because of this, I am unable to support the current version of the DREAM Act.
I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
As I noted yesterday, parents are looking at 25+ years before they could enter on green cards and if this is chain migration, it's a pretty brittle chain.
Here is Paul's response to Senator Hutchison:
Senator Hutchison -
I am so disappointed that you intend to vote against the current (already watered down) version of the DREAM Act. You indicate that they could later petition for some of their relatives to immigrate. Please read why your objection is misguided.
These kids were brought here by their parents, and most of them do not even remember life in another country. They have been our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and classmates in our communities for ten, twenty, and in some cases thirty years.
The DREAM Act would allow them to proudly serve in our country's armed services (which really needs them) or to attend college for at least two years (which would also benefit our country). They would only be granted a ten YEAR conditional non-immigrant (i.e. temporary status). After ten long years, they could then apply for
permanent resident ("green card") status. Only then could they wait three additional years before beginning the naturalization process (which is by no means automatic).
What happens if they earn naturalization after waiting for over thirteen long years? If they have a mother or father who unlawfully entered the U.S, that parent would then be required under our immigration laws to return to his/her home country and face a TEN YEAR BAR for having been unlawfully present in the U.S.
There is no waiver available for an unlawful presence bar for a parent of a U.S. citizen. That parent would need to wait outside the U.S. for a full ten full years before applying to lawfully return to the U.S. I didn't make this up... these ten year bars were passed by our Congress in the Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The result is that if the DREAM Act student qualifies over thirteen years later for U.S. citizenship, his/her parent would then need to leave the U.S. for another ten years before qualifying to immigrate as the parent of a naturalized citizen.
What if after over thirteen years a DREAM Act student becomes a U.S. citizen and files a petition for a brother or sister? Right now if a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico had filed a petition for a sibling prior to December 22, 1995, (over 15 YEARS ago), a visa number would only be available today for that brother/sister to apply for a "green card." If in the U.S. without permission, that applicant would then be required under our restrictive immigration laws to depart from the U.S. for ten more YEARS prior to seeking to any visa or "green card." The waiting lists for siblings of U.S. citizens are incredibly backlogged, and do not advance one year each year. Filing today, it would probably take more than thirty YEARS before a sibling's turn would be reached on the waiting list.
A U.S. citizen CANNOT petition at all for a grandparent, niece, nephew, uncle, aunt, or cousin under our immigration laws.
Please reconsider your position. You have spoken with many of these courageous DREAM Act students, and you know in your heart that they should be given this opportunity to serve our country. You know they would become wonderful U.S. citizens and they are already willing to defend our proud country at home and abroad.
I respectfully request that you do what's right and vote in favor of the DREAM Act.