Three Republican senators, including North Carolina’s Sen. Thom Tillis, have introduced legislation addressing the legal status of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
In 2012, the Obama administration, through executive action, created a way to allow young undocumented immigrants — sometimes called DREAMers after the failed Dream Act — to avoid deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gave DREAMers a means to apply for temporary relief from deportation and a work permit as long as they met certain requirements. Since 2012, about 800,000 DACA recipients have been allowed to stay in the country, but their status is in jeopardy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the administration is rescinding DACA, but he allowed for a six-month delay to give Congress time to pass legislation.
The SUCCEED Act, otherwise known as the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending Our Nation Act, answers the call for legislative solutions. Tillis, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, spoke about their bill in a press conference Sept. 25.
“For years, Congress has tried but failed to provide legal certainty for undocumented children who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own,” Tillis said. “The SUCCEED Act is a fair and compassionate solution that requires individuals to demonstrate they are productive and law-abiding members of their communities to earn legal status.”
The SUCCEED Act provides an opportunity for undocumented children to qualify for conditional permanent resident status and maintain their CPR status as adults through enrollment in higher education, employment, or by serving in the U.S. military.
To qualify for CPR status, applicants will be vetted through background checks and will submit biometric and biographic data to the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, CPR applicants will have to pay off any existing federal tax liabilities. After maintaining CPR status for 10 years, DREAMers can then apply for a green card, and after an additional five years they can apply for U.S. citizenship.
Applicants can lose their CPR status if they commit a felony or serious misdemeanor, fail to meet their merit-based obligations, or are primarily dependent on federal assistance. The bill also prevents undocumented children from petitioning their parents to receive legal status and doesn’t allow their parents to receive benefits.
“If you work hard, follow the law and pay your taxes, you can stay here permanently,” Tillis said.