Three Republican senators introduced the ‘SUCCEED Act’ Sept. 25, designed to protect undocumented children, including over 7,000 Indian Americans, who currently face the threat of deportation following President Donald Trump’s repeal of DACA.
Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced the proposed legislation at a news conference on Capitol Hill. The bill offers a pathway to citizenship to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Dreamers — as DACA children are known — will be offered conditional status and work permits for the first 10 years after they are approved for the program, and will then be eligible for a green card. After 15 years, the youths would be eligible for citizenship.
Unlike other green cards, DACA youth with green cards would not be allowed to sponsor family members for immigration purposes. “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,” said Tillis in a press statement after the bill was introduced.
Earlier in the month, Trump met for dinner with Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in an attempt to hammer out legislation that would protect Dreamers, while also increasing enforcement at the nation’s borders. “Does anyone really want to throw out good, accomplished, educated people, some of them serving in the military? Really?” tweeted the president after the meeting.
A coalition of several Indian American civil rights organizations, including South Asian Americans Leading Together and Desis Rising Up and Moving, issued a statement after the meeting, soundly rejecting the tentative agreement between Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer, and demanding a “clean DREAM Act.”
“DACAmented youth should not be used as bargaining chips to further destroy immigrant families and to militarize our borders and neighborhoods,” stated the coalition of organizations. Hatch, who co-authored the DREAM Act with Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, stated in a press release: “I’ve said all along that we need a workable, permanent solution for the Dreamer population.”
“Immigration is a difficult issue, but I’m convinced there’s a path forward on this, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find that path and to enact meaningful reform, which must also include increased border security,” he said.
Durbin, however, did not state his support for the SUCCEED Act. “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. Unfortunately, the Republican bill falls short,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.
More than 7,000 Indian American children currently benefit from DACA, an Obama-era executive order launched in 2012 which offered relief from deportation to undocumented youth, along with work permits and drivers’ licenses. Trump rescinded the initiative Sept. 5, saying Obama had overstepped the boundaries of executive power.
The ‘SUCCEED Act’ — Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation — would require children to obtain their high school diploma, and then either gain full-time employment, enroll in college, or sign up for the military. Applicants would have to maintain their good standing for five years in order to renew their status. Applicants cannot be affiliated with a gang, and must pass a background security check. They also cannot receive any federal public benefits.
“It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally,” said Lankford, in a press statement, following the bill’s introduction. “However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents,” he said, while also praising Trump for rescinding DACA with the proviso of urging Congress to step up and create legislation which would permanently protect Dreamers.
“To address the uncertainty facing children who were brought to America, the SUCCEED Act is a fair solution that gives them a place to call home, but it also discourages future illegal immigration,” said Lankford.