DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

These Bills Are DREAMers’ Best Current Options for a DACA Replacement.

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This week, we reported on the SUCCEED Act – the bill ironically designed to help young immigrants fail. The act would put DREAMers through a 15-year slog to citizenship and would prevent them from applying for conditional permanent resident status if they’ve been convicted of minor offenses like driving without a license.

The SUCCEED Act is the Republicans’ latest attempt at replacing DACA, which Congress must do by March 2018.

Thankfully there are better options on the table, and we expect even more to be introduced in the coming months. Here are the current top alternatives to the SUCCEED Act.

The American Hope Act

Created by young immigrants at United We Dream and introduced by Democratic Representative Gutierrez of Illinois, this bill is unsurprisingly the most pro-immigrant proposed so far.

To qualify, young immigrants must:

• have entered the U.S. before age 18

• be continuously present in the U.S. after December 31, 2016. This means that, unlike the other bills, even people who arrived in 2016 would be eligible.

• pass a background check and not have been convicted of crimes

As opposed to all the other bills, the American Hope Act does not require young immigrants to fulfill any education or military service requirements.

The immigrants’ conditional permanent resident (CPR) status would:

• last up to eight years

• prevent them from being deported, even if they haven’t yet applied for CPR status, as long as they appear to be eligible

• allow them to work

• allow them to apply for legal permanent resident status (LPR) after three years. Any time spent with DACA benefits would count toward the three years.

This act also would include a grant that provides funding for CPR application costs.

Path to citizenship:

After maintaining LPR status for five years, applicants can apply to become a citizen. Time spent with CPR status can be applied to these five years. This means the American Hope Act provides a five-year path to citizenship – far faster than any other bill on the table.

Outlook:

The bill is co-sponsored by 150 Democrats and no Republicans, so it does not look likely to pass unless changes are made. For more information, visit the United We Dream’s information page and Congress’ page.

The Dream Act of 2017

Introduced by two Democrats and two Republicans, this bill has support on both sides of the aisle. It’s an updated version of a bill originally introduced in 2001. According to the Migration Policy Institute, up to 3.4 million young immigrants would be eligible to apply for legal residency under this act.

To qualify, young immigrants must:

• have entered the U.S. before age 18

• have entered the U.S. at least four years prior to the enactment of the bill and be continuously present since then

• pass a background check and not have been convicted of crimes

• have been admitted to an institution of higher education, graduated high school or obtained a GED, or be currently enrolled in secondary school or a program assisting students to obtain a diploma or GED

Anyone who has DACA would automatically be granted CPR status.

The immigrants’ conditional permanent resident (CPR) status would:

• last up to eight years

• allow them to work

• allow them to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after eight years AND after obtaining a degree from a higher education institution, or completing at least two years of higher education, or serving at least two years in the military with an honorable discharge, or working for three years.

Path to citizenship:

After maintaining LPR status for five years, an immigrant could apply for U.S. citizenship. This means the Dream Act of 2017 provides a 13-year path to citizenship.

Outlook:

The Dream Act has the most bipartisan support of any bill currently on the table, but we have a long way to go till March, and numerous things could change by then.

Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act

This Republican-introduced bill is similar to the Dream Act of 2017 but more limited. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that about 2.5 million people would be eligible to apply for legal residency under the RAC Act.

To qualify, young immigrants must:

• have entered the U.S. before age 16 (younger than with the other bills)

• be physically present in the U.S. since January 1, 2012

• pass a background check and not have been convicted of crimes

• be 18 years or older, have earned a high school diploma or equivalency diploma in the U.S., have been admitted to an institution of higher education, or have a valid work authorization

• not have ignored a deportation order before

The immigrants’ conditional permanent resident (CPR) status would:

• last five years

• require the person to be enrolled in higher education, be employed, or enlist in the military. If the person has not been employed for a total of 48 months during the five years, CPR status would be terminated.

Path to citizenship:

If, after five years of holding CPR status, the immigrant still qualifies, they can apply for another five years of CPR status. Ten years after initial CPR status they can apply for citizenship. This means the RAC Act provides a 10-year path to citizenship.

Outlook:

The RAC Act is currently co-sponsored by dozens of Republicans and one Democrat. For more information, visit Congress’ page.

We anticipate that more bills and alterations to bills will arise in the coming months. Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will keep you updated on this issue with news and analysis.