As we get ready to wind down the nation’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, a proposed bill unveiled in late September presents eligible undocumented children and young adults, who were brought to the United States as children, with a new path toward legalization.
Here are ten things you should know about The SUCCEED Act:
- SUCCEED stands for: The Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending Our Nation Act.
- The bill was introduced last month by three Republican legislators – Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – a member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,and the original author of the DREAM Act.
- The SUCCEED Act is not an attempt to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in one fell swoop. Instead, it takes that proverbial first bite out of the immigration reform elephant, giving many DREAMers a defined path toward legalization – and for some, a possible path to naturalization and U.S. citizenship, years down the road.
- Under SUCCEED, those eligible must maintain what is called a “conditional permanent resident” (CPR) status once they become adults through one or a combination of the following pathways:
- being gainfully employed,
- pursuing postsecondary vocational education, or
- serving in the U.S. military.
- There are certain eligibility and vetting requirements that must be met, including:
- Arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012, the enactment date of DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
- Obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, if 18 or older.
- Passing a criminal background check, including screening for past criminal past or gang affiliation.
- Submitting biometric and biographic data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
- Registering for the military Selective Service.
- Paying off any existing federal tax liabilities.
- Signing an acknowledgment that they will not be eligible for any form of relief or immigration benefit if they are convicted of a crime while on CPR status.
- An eligible individual’s status is reviewed every five years.
- Year 5: After five years of maintaining their merit-based CPR status, those eligible may renew their status for another five years, if over a period of 48 out of 60 months they were: gainfully employed, pursued a post-secondary education, or served in the military. Those who commit a felony or a serious misdemeanor, or become a “public charge” as defined by USCIS, and lose their CPR status will not be eligible to renew their status.
- Year 10: After ten years, those who maintain CPR status and pay off any existing tax liabilities, would be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Status (LPR) – that is to say, apply for a “green card.”
- Year 15: The bill does require those eligible with green cards to wait a minimum of 5 years before they are able to apply for U.S. citizenship.
- The bill limits “chain migration.” In order to sponsor relatives, eligible DREAMers would first have to become U.S. Citizens – a fifteen-year process. However, the bill does allow those eligible to travel – a notable difference between SUCCEED and DACA.
- The SUCCEED Act is not without political controversy. Some hardline pro-immigration enforcement advocates view it as amnesty. Some on the left, on the other hand, view the requirements as too draconian. The discussion around relief for DREAMers is now a bit more muddled following President Trump’s proposal for a reform agenda focused on “border security, interior enforcement, and the creation of a merit-based visa system,” along with a long list of “to-do items” issued by the White House in October.
- There is both bipartisan and public support for providing DREAMers with a path toward legalization. A recent Quinnipiac University national poll released late September shows that 82 percent of American voters, including 69 percent of Republicans, say that “undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship.”
- If SUCCEED is not passed before March 5th, 2018 – the deadline set by the Trump Administration to rescind DACA – many of the original DREAMers will likely lose their protective status.
“For years, Congress has tried but failed to provide legal uncertainty for undocumented children who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own,” Senator Tillis said at the bill’s unveiling.
“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. This is a merit-based solution that should unite members of both parties, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the path forward,” Senator Tills continued.