Immigration reform is a very hot topic these days, and Washington is focused on finding a solution to the problems posed by the impending repeal of the DACA program. On September 25, three senators (Thom Tillis from North Carolina, James Lankford from Oklahoma, and Orrin Hatch from Utah) introduced a bill called the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation Act, or the Succeed Act. The Succeed Act is intended to create a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children. If you think this law may affect you, talk with a family-based immigration lawyer today.
How Does the Succeed Act Work?
The Succeed Act establishes a set of requirements for Dreamers to meet, and immigrants who meet those requirements will be given “conditional permanent resident” status. That means as long as the person continues to meet the requirements, they will be considered a legal resident of the United States. The first period of conditional permanent resident status will last for 5 years, after which the resident can apply for a 5-year extension of their residency. After successfully completing 10 years in the Succeed program, residents would be eligible to apply to become a “lawful permanent resident,” or green card holder. Like other green card holders, they would eventually be eligible to become citizens.
Below are some of the key points of the Succeed Act, and what they might mean for families.
- Eligibility Limited to Children Who Arrived Before Turning 16 and Before June 15, 2012
Eligibility to participate in the Succeed Act would be limited to youth who arrived before June 15, 2012, and who were younger than 16 years old when they arrived; they must also have been younger than 31 years old on June 15, 2012. Additionally, the youth must have resided in the United States continuously since that time.
- Initial Requirement for Education and/or Service
Children who qualify for the proposed Succeed Act would only be eligible for the initial 5-year conditional residency if they are attending school or are serving in the military. Children younger than 18 years old would be required to be attending elementary school, high school, or some form of college or trade school. Youth who turn 18 must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent (such as a GED), and have the option of attending school or enlisting in the armed forces.
- Extension Requirement for Education, Work, and/or Service
Much like the initial 5-year period of eligibility, to qualify for the 5-year extension of conditional resident status Dreamers would need to have attended 8 semesters or graduated from college, served in the military for at least three years, been employed for at least 48 months, or some combination of the three.
- Taxes and Background Check
Eligibility to participate in the Succeed Act will be limited to young people who have no serious criminal records. Young men will be required to be registered with the Selective Service, and everyone will be required to pay any applicable taxes to the IRS.
- Waiver of Due Process Rights
Finally, in order to participate in the Succeed Act, young people will be required to sign an agreement giving up many of their rights in the event that they fail to meet one of the Act’s requirements. They will be giving up legal options that might be available to them, and instead will move directly to deportation proceedings.
Implications for Families
As proposed, the Succeed Act could present challenges for many families. One of the most notable features of the Succeed Act