Sen. Kyl's immigration plan slammed by congressman

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Jon Kyl By Catherine Holland Jon Kyl By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A Democratic congressman accused retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl on Wednesday of using immigration to create a "two-tier society."

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva said the immigration plan Kyl co-sponsored with Texas Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson (R) is unfair and will never get the support of House Democrats.

Kyl and Hutchinson this week introduced an alternate version of the Dream Act, which would give citizenship to young immigrants living here illegally.
But unlike that plan, the Kyl sponsored Achieve Act does not offer citizenship to immigrants who were brought here illegally as children.

Instead, those qualified would be given work permits that would need to be renewed every four years.

"Kyl sets up a two-tier society where you have people that are in permanent status as to never be a citizen," Grijalva said Wednesday.

It is unlikely the bill will get a hearing during the current lame duck session of Congress, which is focused right now on brokering a budget deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."  

Grijalva also described the Achieve Act as a political ploy by Republicans to win over Hispanic voters.

Exit polls from the Presidential election showed Hispanics overwhelmingly backed Democratic President Barack Obama.

Since the election, many Republicans have talked about ways to court the growing Hispanic vote.

Already, there has been a noticeable softening in the tone of some immigration hardliners.

"I'm very glad that reality has finally bit Republicans like Senator Kyl, they have opposed any minor effort toward immigration reform for a decade and have used it to demonize people as political cannon fodder," Grijalva said.

"Now after the elections and the drubbing they took in the Latino community it’s time to try and play nice."

Arizona's other Hispanic Democratic congressman, Ed Pastor, also voiced his frustration with the Kyl bill.

Like Grijalva, Pastor questioned the motives behind a measure that was sponsored by two Republican senators who are retiring at the end of the year.

"This is going nowhere, so if it's going nowhere why do it at all,' said Pastor.