Since the election of President Trump and with the fate of the 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) recipients in question, five separate legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress in an attempt to resolve the DACA issue. The pending bills, the Dream Act of 2017, Recognizing America’s Children Act, the American Hope Act, the BRIDGE Act and the newest proposal, the Succeed Act, each have their own set of criteria, with four out of five of the proposals offering pathways to citizenship.

As discussed in this author’s previous article, on Sept. 5, the Trump Administration rescinded DACA. President Trump gave Congress six months to find a solution protecting the 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and preserving the lives that they built for themselves in reliance on their DACA permit. The six-month window closes on March 5, 2018. To date, Congress has not reached an agreement regarding DACA. However, in anticipation of Trump’s canceling DACA, a promise on which he campaigned, several options have been presented to Congress for consideration.

five legislative DACA proposal infograph

THE BRIDGE ACT:

The first piece of legislation, the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow our Economy (the “BRIDGE” Act) was introduced on January 12, 2017, by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO.). The BRIDGE Act contains many of the same components as DACA, but unlike DACA, the Act would be passed through the legislative process and codified into law.

The BRIDGE Act does not offer a pathway to citizenship but instead grants a three-year provisional protected status to a qualifying applicant. Under the Act, undocumented immigrants cannot be removed from the United States unless the conditions outlined in the permit are violated. The BRIDGE Act also provides a work authorization permit.

Unlike DACA that provided a two-year renewal process, the BRIDGE Act does not offer any renewal process.

RECOGNIZING AMERICA’S CHILDREN ACT:

The second piece of legislation, introduced by Rep Carlos Cuberlo (R-FL.) on March 9, 2017, creates a five-year conditional permanent resident status (“CPR”) for qualifying young undocumented immigrants. Unlike the BRIDGE Act, this Act establishes a pathway to citizenship. Under this Act, deportation proceedings against the immigrants are stayed for the duration of the permit. This Act also authorizes the applicant to work and travel outside of the United States, a provision that was limited under DACA.

Following the expiration of the initial five-year CPR, the qualifying immigrant would be eligible to reapply and extend the CPR for another five-year term. During or after the second five-year term, an applicant who meets specific criteria may apply for long term permanent status (“LPR”). After the five-year period of LPR status, the applicant is eligible to apply for citizenship.

2017 DREAM Act:

 The third proposal represents a bipartisan legislative effort sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-AZ.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and introduced on July 20, 2017. This 2017 Dream Act follows an unsuccessful attempt to pass the Dream Act of 2012 in Congress.

The 2017 DREAM Act provides a pathway to citizenship. The Act grants a five-year conditional permanent resident status to qualifying applicants. Like the BRIDGE Act, this proposal protects the young undocumented immigrants against deportation proceedings during the term of the permit, unless the applicant breaches any of the conditions of the permit. This Act also provides work authorization and allows travel outside the United States.

Under the Act, the conditional permanent resident (“CPR”) status is valid for eight years, after which qualifying immigrants may apply for lawful permanent resident status (“LPR”). The LPR remains valid for five years. After the 13-year aggregate, a combination of the eight-year CPR status and the five-year LPR status, the immigrant is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

THE AMERICAN HOPE ACT:

 The American Hope Act, sponsored by Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), was introduced on July 28, 2017. Similar to the DREAM Act, this Act grants an eight-year conditional permanent resident status to qualifying undocumented immigrants. The American Hope Act provides a pathway to citizenship. Like the previous proposals, the Act allows the applicants to work legally and travel outside of the United States.

While the initial CPR status is valid for eight years, within three years of having CPR status, an applicant is eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status if the applicant meets the qualifying criteria. After five years of permanent resident status (a combination of CRP and LPR status), the undocumented immigrant is then eligible to apply for citizenship.

THE SUCCEED ACT:

The final piece of Dreamer legislation was introduced on Sept. 25 and sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and James Lankford (R-Okla.). The Succeed Act offers a 15-year pathway to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who meet the specific qualifications.

Under the Act, the applicant would initially receive conditional permanent resident (“CPR”) status for 10 years, with a mandatory renewal after five years. Following the expiration of the 10-year period, the applicant could apply for lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status or green card status. The applicant would be eligible to apply for citizenship five years following the receipt of the LPR status.

In an attempt to discourage chain migration, disfavored by President Trump, the Act does not allow the Dreamer, once the lawful permanent resident status is obtained, to petition on behalf of family members, including their spouses or children. As the law stands currently, a green card holder (LPR status) is allowed to petition for permanent residency on behalf of close relatives, including a spouse or children. This Act bars that option.

In a tweet on Sept. 5, President Trump indicated that if Congress did not reach agreement on DACA legislation, he would revisit the issue. Congress has many tasks on their fall agenda and given their legislative load, it is not certain how much time they will have to pass any significant DACA legislation.

Additionally, in a Nov. 2 press release issued by Rep. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), sponsor of the American Hope Act, Gutiérrez reacted to news received that Republican Senators and President Trump will not include any funding for the protection of DACA recipients in the spending package to be passed on Dec. 8.

“The President ended DACA and the top priority of many Democrats is to make sure that DREAMers are in a safe place by the end of this year.  It sounds like Republicans and the President are reneging on that plan and all the promises we had from the White House to work towards passage of a bill to protect DREAMers from deportation are out the window.  You simply cannot make a deal with Donald Trump and expect him to hold up his end of the bargain two months, two weeks or two minutes later,” stated Gutiérrez in the press release.

In his weekly press conference held on Nov. 9, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) responded to a press question regarding DACA and whether a solution would be reached by the end of the year. Ryan stated that a House member working group is active on the issue, and has reached out to talk with the broader conference.

Ryan also said he met with members of the Senate who have formed their own working group, and he did not see a need to put an artificial year-end deadline on the DACA issue. The mandated deadline is March 5.

“So active discussions are underway with our members about how DACA should move forward,” Ryan stated.

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