As the March 2018 deadline approaches for Congress to come up with a replacement to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, legislators are scrambling to come up with proposals for a new DREAMer immigration program that would draw bipartisan support.
Established in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows immigrants who entered the United States as children to apply for temporary deferred action from deportation. Although President Trump promised that DREAMers “should rest easy” under his administration, he, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that the White House would be repealing the Obama-era executive order. The White House, however, called on Congress to take action, giving lawmakers 6 months to pass legislation that would protect DREAMers.
Congress now has until March 6, 2018, to come up with a legislative solution for the nearly 700,000 “DREAMers” who legally live and work in the United States through DACA. Congress has since attempted to pass several replacement bills – many of which promise citizenship – with the hope that a solution can be enacted before DACA lapses. Below are 3 replacement bills being considered.
Under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, immigrants can apply for citizenship after a legal permanent residency period of 5 years. The DREAM Act promises the fastest road to citizenship among all the proposed laws, but still requires applicants to meet certain criteria to be eligible.
DREAM applicants also need to have a high school diploma or must be currently enrolled in a higher education program, entered the U.S. as minors, and lived in the country for 4 years before the bill’s tentative enactment. Out of all the bills, DREAM boasts the most support with 211 sponsors, but lacks bipartisan support (only 9 Republicans support the bill).
In an attempt to garner Republican support, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) introduced an updated version known as the Clean Dream Act in July.
The Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act is another potential DACA replacement, this time pushed primarily by Republican legislators. RAC’s pathway to citizenship is a little longer, requiring 10 years of residence—5 years as a conditional permanent resident and the remaining 5 as a green card holder. RAC, however, allows DACA recipients to immediately travel outside of the U.S., which they were previously unable to. A high school diploma or current enrollment are still requirements for eligibility, but these can be substituted for military service.
The Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Education, Defending our nation (Succeed) Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Thom Tillis in late September this year. SUCCEED is slightly stricter with its age limit, requiring that childhood arrivals must have been 15 years old or younger upon entry to be eligible.
Succeed also requires a longer period of residence to be able to apply—10 years as a conditional permanent resident and 5 years as a green card holder. One would, again, also need to have a high school diploma, current enrollment, or military service to be eligible.
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA recipient concerned about your immigration status, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to learn about your constitutional rights. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.