The Senate Republicans released a proposal on Monday that will create a pathway to legalization for the so-called “Dreamers.” But this project won’t give them the freedom to sponsor family members coming to the United States.
Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma are the chief writers of the bill and believe their plan is a more GOP friendly piece of legislation compared to the DREAM Act which was proposed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The Tillis Lankford bill, called the Succeed Act, is already getting resistance from both liberal immigration advocates and conservative hard-liners. But President Trump has weighed in and said that he is “very supportive” of the concept behind the bill.
“We’ll have to take the hits,” Tillis said at a news conference Monday promoting the bill. “We’ll take the hits on the far left for saying you’re not getting them to citizenship soon enough, and you’ll take it on the far right for saying you’ve ever given them an opportunity to pursue citizenship.”
Politico obtained details of the new bill in advance of its release. Under current law, green card holders can petition for close relatives such as a spouse or children to obtain permanent residency. The president has criticized this concept calling it “chain migration,” a term used to describe U.S. citizens or permanent residents sponsoring their foreign relatives to come to the United States.
“CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” Trump tweeted earlier this month.
The Succeed Act tries to address this by keeping Dreamers who obtain green cards from being allowed to petition family members. If they eventually become citizens, then the Dreamers would be free to sponsor family members.
“The people who are moving through the green card process are people who’ve gone through the process legally over a period of time,” Tillis said, defending the part of the bill that targets chain migration. “This is a special group of people that we want to provide a solution to, but not necessarily let them expedite the potential admission of other persons.”
The pathway to citizenship in this bill is a process that may last 15 years. To be eligible for citizenship in this bill, an immigrant must have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, which is when DACA was first introduced. The Dreamer would be required to obtain a high school diploma, pass a “thorough” criminal background check, submit biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security and pay off any back taxes or establish a repayment plan. Then they would obtain a “conditional permanent residence” status. And if they maintained that status for ten years, they could apply for a formal green card. Once they obtain green cards, the immigrants would be required to wait for five years before they could apply for U.S. citizenship, according to the legislation.
Democratic leaders believe that Trump has agreed to support the DREAM Act, which is also backed by GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Cory Gardner of Colorado. But many Republican congressional leaders seem concerned that the DREAM Act is too closely tied to Democrats and won’t gain the support of the GOP lawmakers.
So which seems like the better pathway: The DREAM Act or the Succeed Act? Which is Trump going to stand behind in the end?