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Bills in Congress Would Give Undocumented Children Path to Citizenship

Introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), the “Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending Our Nation” (SUCCEED) Act would provide undocumented children with the opportunity to earn and keep legal status. SUCCEED provides a 15-year path to citizenship.

To be eligible under SUCCEED, an individual must:

  • Have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 no later than June 15, 2012

  • Pass various background checks

  • Pay off existing tax liabilities

  • Waive future immigration benefits if they violate their status

SUCCEED has the following steps:

  • If under 18 years old, apply for Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR)

  • At age 18, apply for 5-year renewal of CPR

  • Commit to one or a combination of 3 merit tracks: (1) gainful employment for 48 out of 60 months; (2) earn a postsecondary/vocational degree, or (3) serve in the military for at least 3 years

  • If merit requirements are met, CPR can be renewed for 5 more years

  • If individuals demonstrate they are productive and law-abiding through CPR, they can apply for Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR)

  • After 5 years of LPR, they become eligible to apply for citizenship

The SUCCEED Act is not the first of its kind. The Dream Act, sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), was first introduced in 2001. It became part of larger immigration reform bills that passed in one or the other chamber of Congress in 2010 and 2013, but never became law. The Dream Act was reintroduced in July 2017 to fend off legal challenges to DACA. The proposal provides a 13-year path to citizenship for individuals who arrived in the U.S. before their 18th birthday and have lived in the U.S. for at least 4 years.

The Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, introduced by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) in March 2017, also provides a path to citizenship. The American Hope Act, sponsored by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), expands the eligibility requirements, provides an 8-year path to LPR, extends higher education benefits to state residents regardless of legal status, and provides certain higher education assistance benefits for conditional permanent residents. The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grown our Economy) Act, sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is a more temporary solution designed only to replace DACA until other legislation takes effect.

Each bill has somewhat different eligibility requirements, but Senators Tillis and Lankford note that unlike its predecessors, the SUCCEED Act’s provisions deter illegal immigration, prevent chain migration, and make paying off tax liabilities a requirement for maintaining legal status.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

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About this Author

Forrest G. Read IV, Immigration, Employment, Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law Firm
Principal

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has special expertise in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read's immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and...

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