Republicans present conservative vision for ‘Dreamer’ protection

WASHINGTON — Three Republican senators introduced a bill Monday that would offer young unauthorized immigrants a path to citizenship, signaling a possible bipartisan consensus on legislation to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah offered what they called the Succeed Act, billed as a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act that is championed largely by Democrats. Both measures would provide a legislative solution for some of the 800,000 or so beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era order that President Donald Trump rescinded this month.

Congress has six months to figure out how to deal with the program’s suspension before young recipients of the program begin losing their protections and potentially face being deported.

“This bill, I believe, is a fair and orderly method for providing a permanent solution for the DACA children,” Tillis said.

It is unclear whether any Democrats will sign onto the Succeed Act, or whether common ground can be reached between the Republican bill and the DREAM Act, which has languished in Congress since 2001. To be eligible for protection under the Succeed Act, immigrants must have arrived before the age of 16 and been in the United States since June 15, 2012.

The Succeed Act also makes immigrants apply for conditional status for the first 10 years, similar to the work permits offered under DACA, after which they are allowed access to a green card. After five years as a green card holder, a person would be able to apply to become a U.S. citizen.

The DREAM Act is considerably more lenient.

“I appreciate that my colleagues recognize the need to pass legislation giving a path to citizenship to Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought here as children and grew up in this country — so do 75 percent of the American people,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who authored the DREAM Act with Hatch. “Unfortunately,” he said, the Republican bill “falls short.”

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