My understanding is that Republicans oppose the DREAM Act because they oppose a path to citizenship for any undocumented immigrant, regardless of their circumstances. They don’t really care if the individual came into the country as a child, brought by their parents, with no recollection of their former country.

So I’m puzzled by this attempt to craft a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act, led by Florida’s Marco Rubio, which seems to be merely a weaker version of the original bill, with all of the path to citizenship elements that would make anyone disinclined to support an “amnesty” bill scream.

Essentially, the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.)

Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship “could follow…”

The eligibility requirements are pretty much the same: young people (under 32) with a consistent residency in the US, arrival before the age of 14, no felony record, etc. They punctuate it with the silly “Must have knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, ‘and of principles of U.S. government’ requirement. I’d like to see some native-born Americans pass that test, but we’ll let that go.

So instead of a path to citizenship for DREAMers in this situation, the Republican alternative, known as the ACHIEVE Act, just provides a harder path to eventual citizenship, after a series of pointless hoop-jumping. To those who support a path to citizenship, they’ll ask “why don’t we just get on with it without these unnecessary extra steps?” To those who don’t, they’ll ask “why are we granting a path to citizenship to illegal aliens?”

This is just a classic example of the idea that the midpoint between two ends must necessarily be the proper course. It actually just burdens the individual DREAMer with a bunch of ridiculous steps for no other reason than the ephemeral goal of bipartisanship. I’m sure that, if the alternative is the status quo, DREAMers will take it. But it just shows the silliness of our legislative process.