I think it’s a bad idea, and I’m very pro-Immigration and pro-immigration reform.
Downsides: the specific requirements are harsh. You have to prove you’ve been here for 5 years since immigrating as a child, which means that if you came at age 15 and you’re now 19 you still can’t apply. Also, it kind of (obliquely) forces you to rat out your parents, who probably won’t qualify for the program. I mean, if you came in as a child, chances are good an adult was involved. I assume the authorities granting the visa won’t communicate your home address to Homeland Security for them to check out the other residents’ immigration status, but if I were in that situation I’d be nervous.
More importantly, there’s still no path to citizenship. All you get is a potentially renewable two-year work permit. If they’re like the renewable work permits Mr. Mallard was on, they need to be renewed from outside of the country, where you are subject to the whims of consular officials. That means every two years you spend a lot of money on a gamble that you can get back into the US.
I’d like to see children raised in America for, say, at least three years before the age of 18 (three years isn’t long but it’s huge to a teenager) be put on a path to citizenship once they have passed their eighteenth birthday.