Sens. James Lankford (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) introduced the SUCCEED Act on Monday afternoon, presenting their legislation it as an alternative to the controversial Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.
“The DREAM Act has been floated around for a decade,” Lankford said on Monday. “We don’t believe the DREAM Act is a conservative solution to how to be able to resolve this, but we also don’t want to leave this question unanswered.”
“This act is about the children. It’s completely merit based,” Tillis concurred. “It ensures fairness. There’s no skipping in line.”
The legislation would give immigrants a path to a green card and eventual citizenship, provided they were brought into the United States before mid-2012 and before the age of 16.
The senators say their legislation is similar to DACA in that provides “hurdles” people would need to complete in order to remain in the country.
In order to be eligible for the program, an individual would have to earn a high school diploma, submit to a background check, provide requisite data to the Department of Homeland Security, and pay any back taxes.
Upon meeting the conditions of “conditional permanent residence,” the applicant would need to maintain employment, earn a college degree, or serve in the United States military for a minimum of three years. The residence would need to be renewed after five years.
Once the applicant maintains conditional status for a minimum of ten years and demonstrates that they “are a productive, law-abiding member of society,” he/she could then apply for a green card. After five additional years, the applicant would then be able to apply for citizenship.
“This bill I believe is a fair and orderly method to providing a … solution for the DACA children,” Tillis said.
Hatch, who authored the original 2001 DREAM Act, is confident the legislation can fix the issue. “I’m tired of this problem,” he said. “I think we need a permanent solution, you know, since DACA was rescinded.”
“We think that it’s a balanced resolution to a vexing problem … and we’ll have to take the hits,” Tillis added, saying that he hopes the legislation will earn bipartisan support and that Democrats will “check some of their biases” and work with Republicans.
An applicant seeking to receive the initial conditional status under the legislation must “sign a waiver from future immigration benefits if they violate certain terms of their status.” Anyone convicted of a felony or “significant misdemeanor” would forfeit their conditional status.