Tillis, Lankford, Hatch introduce bill to give dreamers merit-based path to legal status

Senate Republicans on Monday introduced a bill to give those brought to the United States as undocumented children an opportunity to pursue conditional permanent resident (CPR) status by meeting specific criteria, and eventually apply for lawful permanent status.

U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment, Education and Defending our nation (SUCCEED) Act to bring certainty to undocumented children who were brought to the United States prior to June 15, 2012, before they turned 16.

Tillis said the bill offers a merit-based solution that should unite both parties of Congress.

“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.”

In order to qualify for CPR status under the bill, applicants older than 18 would have to hold a high school diploma, pass criminal background checks, provide biometric and biographic data, register for military selective service, pay any tax liabilities, and acknowledge ineligibility for immigration benefits or relief if they commit a crime while on CPR status.

Those who qualify for CPR status would then have pathways to choose from to maintain their status: gainful employment, postsecondary or vocational education, military service, or some combination of those three options.

The SUCCEED Act also outlines a path for dreamers to pursue lawful permanent status (LPS), otherwise known as a green card, after holding CPR status for 10 years and paying any tax liabilities. Dreamers would then be able to apply for naturalization after holding a green card for at least five years.

“It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally,” Lankford said. “However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parent.”

President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action so that the issue could be resolved through legislation from Congress, Lankford said.

“It is time for Congress to stop ignoring the obvious problems with our border security and immigration system and stop pretending that this issue will resolve itself — it will not. To address the uncertainty facing children who were brought to America, the SUCCEED Act is a fair solution that gives them a place to call home, but it also discourages future illegal immigration,” Lankford said.

In an effort to curb illegal immigration, recipients of non-immigrant visas would be required to sign waivers acknowledging that immigration benefits will be forfeited if visa terms are violated under the bill.

Hatch said that a permanent solution is needed for the so-called dreamer population.

“This bill provides that solution, in a way that ensures that dreamers who want to stay in the United States long-term get their education and obtain gainful employment,” Hatch said. “Immigration is a difficult issue, but I’m convinced there’s a path forward on this, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find that path and to enact meaningful reform—which must also include increased border security — into law.”