Sept. 25 (UPI) — Two Republican senators on Monday introduced a bill to create a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers who were protected from deportation under the soon-to-be defunct Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Thom Tillis of North Carolina spoke about the so-called SUCCEED Act during a news conference, calling it the Republican answer to former President Barack Obama’s DACA, which was established by executive order in 2012.
On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump said he is winding down the DACA program because he wanted Congress to create immigration reform outside of executive action.
Under DACA, undocumented people brought to the United States as children were allowed to remain in the country by applying and registering with the federal government.
With the SUCCEED Act, Dreamers would be eligible to stay in the United States if they can pass a criminal background check, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have been in the United States since June 15, 2012, and entered the country before the age of 16, ABC News reported. Applicants also would be required to submit biometric and personal data to the Department of Homeland Security, pay off tax liabilities and waive future immigration benefits if they violate their status.
“We think it is a balanced resolution to a vexing problem that hasn’t been solved for 30 years,” Tillis told reporters. “We’ll take hits on the far left for saying you’re not getting them to citizenship soon enough and we’ll take it on the far right for saying you’ve ever given them an opportunity to pursue citizenship.”
Lankford said he spoke with Trump about the proposal and the president said he was “very supportive” of the concept, Politico reported.
The SUCCEED Act is a more conservative approach to immigration reform than one submitted by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Lucille Royball-Allard, D-Calif., which has earned bipartisan support. The 2017 Dream Act would give conditional permanent residency to about 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 18. Those applicants must be admitted to an institution of higher learning, have earned a high school diploma or equivalent, or be enrolled in a secondary school or GED program.
Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for Latino and working class communities in New York City, said Lankford and Tillis’ legislation “falls far short” of the protections offered under the Dream Act.
“We demand an end to attempts by Republicans in Congress to pretend to offer fake solutions like the ‘Succeed’ Act, which fall far short of what we need. We demand that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell immediately allow for a vote on a clean Dream Act, without trying to use us as bargaining chips for more money for out-of-control border control and immigration enforcement,” the organization said.