Republicans introduce conservative DACA fix that offers path to citizenship
The bill would offer qualified applicants a 15-year path to citizenship.
By BENJAMIN SIEGEL
September 25, 2017, 7:35 PM
• 4 min read
-- Two Republican senators have introduced a new bill that addresses the status of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, potentially offering them a 15-year path to citizenship.
The bill, known as the SUCCEED Act, would also prevent recipients from sponsoring family members, an attempt to address concerns from immigration hawks and President Trump.
"This, I believe, is a fair and orderly method for providing a permanent solution for the DACA children," Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told reporters today.
To be eligible, participants would have to pass a criminal background check and have a high school diploma or equivalent. They would also have to have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, and entered before the age of 16. To qualify, applicants would need to submit biometric and biographical data to the Department of Homeland Security. The SUCCEED Act would also require participants to pay off any tax liabilities and sign a waiver for future immigration benefits if they were to violate their status.
Under the proposal, Dreamers would have "conditional permanent residence" for 10 years before becoming eligible to apply for a green card, and that status could be renewed after five years. Dreamers would only be able to apply for citizenship after holding a green card for five years.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said he spoke with President Trump about the proposal shortly after Trump decided to end the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Lankford told reporters the president had said of the SUCCEED Act: "'That's the right way to go.'"
Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have six months to reach an agreement on a legislative fix to address the end of the DACA program in March.
Meanwhile, Democrats have pushed for a vote on the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. But Republicans have been leery of supporting the Dream Act in the past, and conservatives have derided it as a form of "amnesty."
"We think it's a balanced resolution for a vexing problem that hasn't been solved for 30 years, and we'll have to take the hits," Tillis responded when asked to address the expected criticism of the SUCCEED Act.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a senior legislator and longtime advocate of the Dream Act, told reporters today: "We all need to focus on a bill that has a chance of passing."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday the White House would release immigration reform principles in the coming days to help guide lawmakers working to address the end of the DACA program.
Trump and top Democrats reached an agreement earlier this month on the framework of an agreement that would pair a legislative fix for Dreamers with border security provisions.
Republicans have begun internal discussions about possible legislative proposals on border security and the status of Dreamers as well.
Tillis and Lankford said they don't see their proposal as a standalone bill, and want to see it incorporated into a larger agreement.