U.S. senators propose new ‘Dreamers’ bill

WASHINGTON – A U.S. senator from Oklahoma has introduced legislation that would be an alternative to the DREAM Act.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would end DACA — a program that gave almost 800,000 young undocumented immigrants protections from deportation.

“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions said at the Justice Department.

However, the administration said it would continue to renew permits for individuals over the next six months, giving Congress enough time to pass legislation that could extend protections for DACA recipients past the deadline.

“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 30: Serafina Ha (L) of Chicago and Disciples of Christ Refugee and Immigration Ministries Director Sharon Stanley-Rea lead chants during a demonstration in favor of immigration reform in front of the White House August 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Organized by The Franciscan Action Network, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Church World Service and Sisters of Mercy and the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, the rally began seven days of prayer and fasting to demand the Trump Administration protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protection Status (TPS). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Now, a group of senators are teaming up to create a new bill that would replace DACA.

Sen. James Lankford, Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the ‘Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation Act.’

The senators say the SUCCEED Act will address the legal uncertainty facing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

“It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally,” said Lankford. “However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents. President Trump rescinded the DACA executive action so that this issue could be resolved the right way—through legislation from Congress. It is time for Congress to stop ignoring the obvious problems with our border security and immigration system and stop pretending that this issue will resolve itself, it will not. To address the uncertainty facing children who were brought to America, the SUCCEED Act is a fair solution that gives them a place to call home, but it also discourages future illegal immigration.”

To qualify, undocumented children would have to pass a rigorous vetting process that includes the following requirements:

  • Arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012, the enactment date of DACA.
  • Obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent if 18 or older.
  • Passing a thorough criminal background check, which extends to information obtained from INTERPOL to screen for individuals with a criminal past or gang affiliation.
  • Submitting biometric and biographic data to the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Registering for the military selective service
  • Paying any existing federal tax liabilities
  • Signing an acknowledgement that they will not be eligible for any form of relief or immigration benefit pursuant to the legislation if they are convicted of a crime while on CPR status.

After five years of CPR status, the bill would allow those individuals to renew their status for another five years if they fulfill their commitment to pursue at least one of three merit-based pathways over a 48-month or 60-month period and have demonstrated good moral character.

They could lose their CPR status if they fail to fulfill merit-based obligations, commit a felony or serious misdemeanor, or become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.

After 10 years of holding CPR status, individuals would then be eligible for a green card. The bill also requires green card holders to wait at least five years before they are able to apply for naturalization.

JERSEY CITY, NJ – SEPTEMBER 15: An American flag billows in the wind as immigrants stand and take the oath of allegiance to the United States during a naturalization ceremony at Liberty State Park, September 15, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. To mark Citizenship Day, 35 immigrants became United States citizens during the ceremony. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The bill would prohibit individuals who achieve legal residency under the bill from sponsoring any family members. That restriction would not apply if they become citizens after the minimum 15-year process.

“I’ve said all along that we need a workable, permanent solution for the Dreamer population,” said Hatch. “This bill provides that solution, in a way that ensures that Dreamers who want to stay in the United States long term get their education and obtain gainful employment. Immigration is a difficult issue, but I’m convinced there’s a path forward on this, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find that path and to enact meaningful reform, which must also include increased border security.”