My personal objections to the DREAM act were to its being larded up with Democratic-party wishlist items. The basic idea isn’t evil or even objectionable, really. Mamá made it across the border before her water broke: the kid’s a citizen. Ten minutes too late: not. That’s an extreme, but minor children don’t really have a choice about going where their parents go. Mamá and Papá decided to become illegal aliens — or, more often, Papá did, and Mamá went along with it — and the kids didn’t have much input. That really is unfair.
So what would a Republican version look like?
How about this: Children brought across the border before age 18 (eligibility for military service) become eligible, upon application, for permanent residence. The five-year clock for naturalization by the normal process begins at age 18 or the date of filing, whichever is later, and it makes the kid eligible to join the military if he or she prefers that route.
In addition, that means that the new citizen is at least 22 (joins the military at age 18) or 23 (clock starts at age 18). They are therefore adults, and cannot serve as “anchors” for their illegal alien parents. That sets up a catch, in that the parents are revealed as illegal aliens by the child’s application. So: If the parents self-deport and live outside the US for at least one year, they go on the list for legal entry to permanent resident status without regards to any quotas for that country.
That’s still a bit unfair to people who’ve jumped through all the (considerable) hoops for legal entry by the normal process, but it isn’t a simple giveaway, either. I could get behind it with no trouble.