Time for Congress to Pass Legislation for Dreamers
September 18, 2017
In the wake of President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, we must urge our members of Congress to pass legislation that will keep Dreamers safe. There is no time to waste while Congress navigates multiple bills concerning the fate of DACA recipients. After assessing the bills currently on the House and Senate floor, NETWORK has evaluated the varying implications of the Dream Act, the RAC Act, and the Bridge Act. Stay in the know about these legislative pieces:
The BRIDGE Act is a House bill that provides a temporary extension of DACA’s protections. As the most conservative bill on the floor, the BRIDGE Act provides no pathway to citizenship, but legalizes DACA’s original protections for another three years. We at NETWORK support solutions to the danger Dreamers currently face, but we cannot let Congress place a Band-Aid of a bill on our deeply fractured immigration system. Dreamers deserve a permanent and long-term pathway to living a life of dignity in the U.S.
While the RAC Act provides similar pathways to citizenship as the Dream Act (described below), it narrows the pool of recipients by allowing only those who arrived before the age of 16 and have been in the U.S. for five years. They are granted paths to citizenship either through working, going to school, or joining armed services. However, these individuals must stay in conditional status for five years—no exception. In this aspect, the Dream Act proves more efficient in that Dreamers would be eligible for a green card after being in school or work for some time.
Unlike the RAC and BRIDGE Acts, which are solely House bills, both the Senate and House are looking at versions of the Dream Act. NETWORK places its full support behind the bipartisan Dream Act as it provides a long-term path to citizenship and safety for a much greater population of Dreamers. Both the RAC and Dream Act grant Dreamers conditional status, however, the Dream Act grants protection to anyone who’s been in the US since they’ve been 17 or younger and has lived here for four years. Better yet, Dreamers on conditional status can get green cards after they’ve been in college for a certain amount of time or have been employed for at least 75 percent of the time they’ve had a work permit.
The SUCCEED Act is a new bill introduced in the Senate that would disadvantage Dreamers considerably more than previous proposals. The SUCCEED Act is a partisan bill that endangers Dreamers and their families instead of protecting them. In order to be eligible for the SUCCEED Act, participants must meet unfeasible requirements that inconvenience Dreamers in every aspect of their path to citizenship. Under the SUCCEED Act, a Dreamer would have to wait a total of 15 years to become a citizen—at the very least. Additionally, this bill imposes an arbitrary cap on Dreamers that have lived in America for more than 20 years. Even though these are the individuals with the deepest ties to their lives here, they would be subject to deportation. The SUCCEED Act widens the potential for families to be torn apart as it limits the ability of Dreamers to legally sponsor their family members for residency. Under this bill, Dreamers must have waited 10 years in conditional status before they attempt to sponsor family members for permanent residency. The SUCCEED Act and its cosponsors, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), have no evidence nor intention of protecting Dreamers. Their partisan bill merely employs harsh provisions meant to cause difficulty and fear for Dreamers and their families.