ST. GEORGE – Sen. Orrin Hatch joined fellow GOP senators in introducing a new bill Monday that aims at helping young undocumented immigrants, also known as Dreamers, ultimately become legal citizens.
The Utah senator joined Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma for a press conference Monday as they introduced the “Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending Our Nation (SUCCEED) Act.”
The new legislation is seen as a way to help the young immigrants caught in a wake of uncertainty following President Donald Trump’s rescinding the protections provided under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. The program is set to be phased out over the next six months.
The Obama-era program provided young immigrants – namely those living in the U.S. illegally who were brought here as children – the ability to work legally within the United States without fear of deportation via two-year, renewable permits. New applications have since been halted.
It is estimated that rescinding the program impacts nearly 800,000 people in the United States.
“These are young people who are stuck in limbo,” Hatch said during the press conference. “It’s not fair to them. Many of them have proven themselves as decent, honorable people who would make great citizens in this country.”
According to a news release from Hatch’s office, the SUCCEED Act is designed to provide a track for these undocumented persons to qualify for conditional permanent resident, or CPR, status. Members of the Dreamer population will be able to maintain their CPR status as adults through one or a combination of the following pathways: being gainfully employed, pursing postsecondary or vocational education or serving in the U.S. military.
Hatch called the bill “a permanent solution that recognizes the positive contribution these Dreamers make in our communities.”
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The path to citizenship outlined by the SUCCEED Act takes up to 15 years, according to Hatch’s office.
After the first five years of having CPR status, it can be renewed for another five years provided the applicant has obtained gainful employment, engaged educational pursuits or served in the military, as well as “demonstrated good moral character.”
Additional requirements for conditional permanent status include arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012, the enactment date of DACA; obtaining a diploma or equivalent if 18 or older; passing a criminal background check, registering for military service, among other stipulations.
After 10 years on CPR status, individuals would be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Status, or LPR, or a “green card” after paying off any tax liabilities. At this point, green card holders will wait a minimum of five years before they are able to apply for citizenship.
CPR status can be lost if an individual hasn’t fulfilled the requirement to be employed, in school or in military service, or if an individual commits a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Additionally, the SUCCEED Act prevents the parents of undocumented children from receiving benefits or preferential treatment and prevents undocumented children from petitioning for their parents.
The bill also deters future illegal immigration by requiring future non-immigrant visa recipients to sign a waiver forfeiting any future immigration benefits if they violate the terms of their visa.
“The SUCCEED Act is a fair and compassionate solution that requires individuals to demonstrate they are productive and law-abiding members of their communities to earn legal status,” Tillis said. “This is a merit-based solution that should unite members of both parties, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the path forward.”
During the press conference, Lankford said Trump is supportive of the concept behind the bill.
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