Congress is currently considering several bills that would affect the nearly 700,000 individuals currently residing in the US under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) implemented under President Obama in 2012 and rescinded by President Trump in September 2017.Some of these proposals would provide a pathway towards citizenship that the current program does not. Congress has until March to decide on a solution, and if no bill is passed before the deadline, approximately 1,000 individuals per day will lose their protected status.
There are four legislative proposals currently under consideration. These include:
- RAC Act – Introduced by Representative Curbelo from Florida, RAC provides a pathway towards citizenship after a period of ten years. To be eligible, applicants must live in the US for five years as conditional permanent residents, and spend five more years as a green card holder. The bill would allow applicants to return to their native homes for short periods of time.
- Bridge Act – The Bridge Act does not provide a pathway to citizenship and requires reapplication every three years. It also prohibits international travel during this period.
- Succeed Act – This bill sponsored by Senator Tillis from North Carolina does not allow for international travel and requires applicants to have ten years as a conditional resident and another five years as a green card holder.
- Dream Act – The legislation allows applicants to apply for citizenship at the completion of five years as a permanent resident. Individuals must also earn a valid GED or high school diploma to qualify. The oldest of the proposals, this legislation has been debated since introduction in 2001.
Public & Political Support for Reform
Polls show that 85% of Americans agree that immigration reform is necessary. Private citizens, business owners, politicians, and immigrants support making changes that would create pathways to citizenship and permanently resolve the issues surrounding children who entered the United States illegally.
Some proposals under consideration have broad bipartisan support. However, provisions within each proposal do not and it is likely that Congress will compromise on some of the more contentious issues including the duration required, the documentation required, and whether or not individuals will be able to travel abroad to visit family prior to the completion of their required residency period. It is also possible that a replacement bill will not be passed before the March 6th deadline and immigrants may need to pursue other immigration options that may be available to them.