Senate Republicans released newly proposed legislation to replace DACA on Monday, Sept. 25 and it is, as expected, more conservative than before. The bill is an effort to win over conservatives in Congress while the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, executive order created by former President Barack Obama in June 2012 has been in flux. In August, President Donald Trump said he planned to phase out the program over six months with "minimum disruption." But what's in the DACA replacement bill?
Per Politico, the bill, called the Succeed Act, has some significant changes that, if passed, could change the fate of many undocumented "Dreamers" living in the U.S. The Succeed Act is also being called the "15 year path" because of the duration of time it will take for Dreamers obtain citizenship.
The bill, written by Republican Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, aims to find a solution that helps the Dreamers, but not necessarily the families of Dreamers. The bill's intent is to get GOP lawmakers who are on the fence about eliminating DACA as a whole but who do want tougher immigration on board with a compromise. Sen. Tillis told Politico,
"This is a special group of people that we want to provide a solution to, but not necessarily let them expedite the potential admission of other persons."
In early September, President Trump announced his plan for a six-month delay on ending DACA, to give Congress a window of time to propose new legislation. The current DACA bill allows for undocumented minors who have lived in the U.S. since 2007 and are under 16 years old to apply for renewable two year visas that allow them to get drivers licenses, credit cards, and open bank accounts, among other things. There are approximately 800,000 recipients of DACA that will be affected by changes to the bill.
So who is eligible under the new bill and what does this actually mean for recipients of DACA?
To be eligible under the Succeed Act, undocumented immigrants would have to have been under 16 years old when they arrived in the country and in the United States since June 15, 2012 — when DACA took effect. Which is pretty similar to DACA. That's not all though. To be eligible, candidates need to have a high school diploma, pass a thorough background check, pay off any taxes or guarantee a repayment plan, and submit biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security, according to Politico. Needless to say, just being eligible for DACA is hard enough.
Another issue on the bill is so-called "chain migration," which is when U.S. citizens or permanent residents sponsor their relatives who are trying to come to the United States as well. Current law allows for green card holders to petition for relatives to obtain permanent residency, but the new bill would allow family members to sponsor relatives only after they became a U.S. citizen.
Trump tweeted his dismissal of "chain migration" on Sept. 15.
And what about that "15-year path?"
The path would theoretically create a 15-year path to citizenship. After someone passes all of the steps to eligibility mentioned above, they would then be given a "conditional permanent residence" status. This status has to be maintained for 10 years – which requires that an applicant is earning a college degree, serves in the military for three years, or remains employed all 10 years – before they can apply for a green card. Also within those 10 years, the person has to renew their status every five years. Following along?
Once applicants apply and obtain their green card, they have to wait another five years until they can apply for U.S. citizenship. Assuming the applicant's process goes as planned, they should obtain U.S. citizenship at the end of the 15 years.
It's important to mention that this "path," which would ideally take 15 years at best, is assuming every part of the process will go smoothly for applicants. However in reality, it is often a difficult and long process to obtain a green card.
Many expect the White House to come to some conclusion by the end of 2017, as many DACA recipients' status is set to expire early 2018.
In the meantime, the fate of this bill is unclear. As is the fate of approximately 800,000 Dreamers in the United States. Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.