Rondell Treviño, Founder and President, Memphis immigration Project
When President Donald Trump decided to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for more than 800,000 plus Immigrant Dreamers, one of his intentions of doing so was for Congress to step up and seek to pass legislation that protects them from deportation and allows them to continue to be productive people in the United States.
One of the most encouraging things I have seen is how Congress has stepped up and presented several legislative bills even in the midst of the divides over Immigration.
Here’s a summary of each legislative bill.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced a bipartisan bill called the Dream Act of 2017.
This bill contains key things that Memphis Immigrant Dreamers and Memphians should know:
- The Dream Act would create a conditional permanent resident status valid for up to eight years for young undocumented immigrants that would protect them from deportation, allow them to work legally in the U.S. and permit them to travel outside the country.
- To qualify for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status, young undocumented immigrants would need to meet the following requirements:
- Through documentation described in the bill, establish that they were brought to the U.S. at age 17 or younger and have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment;
- Pass a government background check, demonstrate “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data and undergo a biometric and medical exam;
- Demonstrate they have been admitted to a college or university, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; and
- Pay a fee.
- The bill would automatically grant conditional permanent resident (CPR) status to DACA recipients who still meet the requirements needed to obtain DACA.
- Conditional permanent resident status can be changed to lawful permanent resident status — green card holder — by:
- Maintaining continuous residence in the U.S.;
- Meeting one of the following three requirements:
1) Completion of at least two years of military service,
2) Graduation from a college or university or completion of at least two years of a bachelor’s or higher degree program in the U.S., or
3) Employment for a period totaling at least three years;
- Demonstrating an ability to read, write and speak English and an understanding of American history, principles, and form of government;
- Passing a government background check, continuing to demonstrate “good moral character” without felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submitting biometric and biographic data and undergoing a biometric and medical exam; and
- Paying a fee.
- Recipients can lose conditional permanent resident status if they commit a serious crime or fail to meet the other requirements set in the bill.
Why is the Dream Act of 2017 worth supporting?
- The Dream Act is a bipartisan, legislative solution. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and other co-sponsors in the Senate and Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) support the Dream Act as a bipartisan legislative solution to address permanently the fate of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives.
- The Dream Act helps the American economy. The bill would allow young undocumented immigrants to continue to contribute to their communities and the economy by working legally, paying their fair share of taxes and building businesses that hire American workers. Over the next 10 years, young undocumented immigrants who currently have DACA will contribute an estimated $433.4 billion to the GDP, $60 billion in fiscal impact, and $12.3 billion in taxes to Social Security and Medicare.
- The Dream Act supports our country’s values. The Dream Act treats young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — some as babies — fairly by providing a permanent legislative solution that allows them to stay in the U.S. The bill prevents Dreamers from deportation to a country where they did not grow up and many do not remember. It allows them to reach their full potential and have the opportunity to become American in the eyes of the law, contributing to a brighter future for all Americans.
On March 9, 2017, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) introduced the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act (H.R. 1468) with nine original Republican co-sponsors. The bill would permit young undocumented immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived here since at least January 1, 2012, to gain a five-year “conditional permanent resident” status if they pursue vocational or higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements.
The RAC Act is a Republican-led bill that could provide more than 750,000 young immigrants participating in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as well as other eligible young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children, the opportunity to earn a legal status.
What the RAC Act Does
- The bill would create a five-year “conditional permanent resident” status for young undocumented immigrants that would protect them from deportation, allow them to work legally in the United States and permit them to travel outside the country.
- To qualify for “conditional permanent resident” status, young undocumented immigrants would need to meet the following requirements:
- Establish that they came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have continuously lived in the U.S. since at least January 1, 2012;
- Pass a government background check and demonstrate “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions;
- Earn a high school diploma or an equivalent (if they are 18 years or older); and
- Meet one of the following requirements (if they are 18 years or older):
- Demonstrate an intent to join the U.S. military (military path);
- Be admitted to an institution of higher education (higher education path);
- Have a valid work authorization document (worker path).
- “Conditional permanent resident” status can be extended once for a second period of five years by meeting one of the following requirements:
- Have been enlisted in the military or an active-duty reserve component of the military for at least three years during the preceding five-year period (military path);
- Have graduated from an institution of higher education (higher education path); or
- Have been employed for a total period of at least 48 months during the preceding five-year period (worker path).
- As soon as the “conditional permanent resident” status is extended, recipients could apply to become a lawful permanent resident (green-card holder) if they continue to meet the requirements set in the bill. Recipients enlisted in the military could apply for naturalization immediately after obtaining lawful permanent resident status.
- Under the bill, a recipient’s “conditional permanent resident status” would be revoked if he or she failed to continue to meet all of the bill’s requirements.
Why the RAC Act Works
- The RAC Act is a Republican-led conservative solution. Since its introduction, more Republican members have demonstrated their support by co-sponsoring the bill.
- The RAC Act supports our country’s values. The bill provides a permanent solution that would allow many young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, grew up in our communities, and consider themselves American to continue to contribute to the U.S.
- The RAC Act helps American workers. The bill would allow young undocumented immigrants to continue to contribute to their communities and the U.S. economy by working legally, paying their share of taxes and building businesses that hire American workers.
Senators. Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a new bill, the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our nation (SUCCEED) Act, today.
The bill serves as one possible legislative solution for Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and young babies without any choice in the matter.
The SUCCEED Act would allow Dreamers to earn legal status, and eventual citizenship after 15 years. In order to qualify, they must “meet specific requirements, pass an extensive criminal background check, and follow one or a combination of three merit-based tracks to demonstrate they are productive members of their communities,” according to a handout the senators circulated.
To qualify for CPR status, undocumented children must first pass a rigorous vetting process. Eligibility and vetting requirements include:
- Arriving in the US 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 or the country of origin 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 acknowledgment 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, individuals may renew their status for another five years if they fulfill their commitment to pursue at least one of the three merit-based pathways over a 48-month or 60-month period and have demonstrated good moral character. Individuals could lose their CPR status if they fail to fulfill their merit-based obligations, commit a felony or a serious misdemeanor, or become a “public charge” (defined by the USCIS as one who becomes primarily dependent on the government for subsistence).
After 10 years of holding CPR status, individuals would be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Status (LPR) or a “green card” after paying any tax liabilities. The bill requires green card holders to wait a minimum of five years before they are able to apply for naturalization if they choose to do so.
Additionally, the SUCCEED Act prevents the parents of undocumented children from receiving benefits or preferential treatment and prevents undocumented children from petitioning their parents.
The bill also deters future illegal immigration by requiring future non-immigrant visa recipients to sign a waiver forfeiting any future immigration benefits if they violate the terms of their visa.
- The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act
- Introduced in Jan. 2017 by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in Senate and by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in House
- Has nine cosponsors in the Senate (three Republicans and six Democrats) and 31 bipartisan cosponsors in the House
The Bridge Act would offer people eligible for DACA relief from deportation as well as employment authorization for three years, beginning when the bill is enacted.
The program would protect current DACA recipients and new applicants who meet similar education or work requirements and are at least 15 years old, came to the United States before they were 16 and have been here for at least 10 years.
- The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act
- Introduced in Feb. by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in Senate and in Sept. by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) in House
- Has one Republican cosponsor in the Senate and 20 in the House
- The Raise Act is designed to lower overall immigration rates, including legal immigration. Proponents say that would boost the economy by being more selective with immigration, though others refute that claim.The act would create a points-based system that evaluates potential immigrants on their education level, English language ability, high-paying job offers, age and record of achievement.It would also limit protections for immigrants’ extended family members, cap the number of refugees offered permanent residency at 50,000 per year and eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery, which offers 50,000 visas annually to countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.The act, which Trump already said he would support, would decrease overall immigration by 50% in 10 years, according to a fact sheet from the sponsoring lawmakers.
Border Security for America Act
- Introduced in July 2017 by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in the House
- Has 70 Republican cosponsors
The Border Security for America Act would increase funds, resources and people along the southern border.
The act would allocate $10 billion for infrastructure and technology along the border, $5 billion to improve and modernize trading ports and a total of $145 million to reimburse state and local law enforcement and members of the National Guard who work along the southern border.
It would also add 5,000 border patrol agents and 5,000 customs and border-protection officers, and encourage immigration officials to more closely follow people who overstay their visas.
Democratic leaders, who have said they will not support a bill that funds a border wall, offered to pair the Dream Act with an earlier version of a border security bill, also introduced by McCaul. The 2013 bill, which passed unanimously in the House, would encourage lawmakers to study the impact of immigration enforcement and border security before allocating resources.
Adapted by Los Angeles Times
Memphis immigration Project exists to inspire the Christian community and people of good will to love their Immigrant neighbor.