On September 5, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump announced is ending the Obama Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program effective March 5, 2018. This announcement immediately placed the futures of over 800,000 DACA recipients at risk.
The question now is whether Congress will step in and pass long-overdue legislation that will provide a permanent solution to the so-called “Dreamers” (individuals who were brought to the United States as children and lack valid immigration status). The DREAM Act was initially introduced in 2001 and has been reintroduced every year since but failed to pass (an excellent analysis of the latest DREAM Act is available here).
On September 25, 2017, three Republican Senators introduced their proposal to address the plight of Dreamers – the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act. Although the Act aims to provide protection to Dreamers and a pathway to citizenship in the United States, it is a deeply-flawed piece of legislation.
As with the DACA program, applicants must have arrived in the country before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012. Individuals would initially be granted conditional residence for 5 years, and it would take at least 15 years to become a U.S. citizen under this program.
Various harsh and troubling provisions are built in to the Act, including a restriction on the ability to petition spouses or children for immigration benefits, and the requirement that Dreamers give up the right to apply for almost all forms of relief from removal if they violate any terms of their conditional resident status.
The drafters of this legislation also included harsh provisions that are unrelated to Dreamers- including a requirement that temporary visa holders also waive their right to relief from removal if they overstay or violate their status (even unintentionally). And as a final “gift” the authors severely curtail the President’s parole authority that has been used to provide humanitarian protection to deserving populations such as military families.
In light of all this, one can only hope that the SUCCEED Act will fail. Congress can and should do better to protect this class of individuals and the vast majority of the remaining undocumented population – hardworking and contributing individuals who have lengthy residence in this country and deep family and community ties.
If you are a DACA recipient and have questions about your status and alternative options in the United States, contact our office today at 213 – 627 – 8997 or book your appointment online today.