Senate Republicans Propose The “Succeed Act”: DACA Replacement Bill

In response to President Trump’s disbanding of the DACA program, two Republican Senators, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Tom Tillis of North Carolina, unveiled a proposed bill this week which is being touted as a “conservative” approach to protecting young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.  The two Senators understand that children should not be accountable and punished for the actions of their parents.  A spokesman for Senator Tillis described the bill, referred to as the “Succeed Act,” as “fair, but rigorous.”  “Succeed” stands for “Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, and Education and Defending our nation.”

There is good news and bad news about the bill being proposed by Lankford and Tillis.  The good news is that the “conservative DREAM Act” seems to be offering a sort of “amnesty” to existing DACA recipients wherein there would be a permanent path to residency for them.  The legislation gives DACA recipients the option to pursue merit-based pathways to earn conditional status.  Essentially, individuals brought to the United States under the age 16, who have lived here since 2012, and were under 31 at that time, who have achieved a high school diploma or equivalent and who are pursuing higher education, have held a job or have served in the military would be able to apply for permits, pending an extensive background check and proof of the maintenance of a clean criminal record.  The bill being crafted would allow recipients a “conditional” stay in the United States, after which time they could pursue legal permanent residency and eventually citizenship.  The “Succeed Act” is also being called the “15 year path because of the duration of time it will take for the Dreamers to obtain citizenship.

The bill, although similar to DACA in some ways, addresses conservative concerns about a concept called “chain migration” in which “chains” of individuals would continue to immigrate to the United States because of familial relationships.  To appease Republican lawmakers, the bill essentially prohibits individuals who achieve legal residency through the “Succeed Act” from sponsoring any family members.  The bill also tightens restrictions on overstaying a visa and would limit the Homeland Security department’s future ability to offer exceptions to categories of undocumented immigrants.

Although there is concern that there will be opposition and push-back to the “Succeed Act,” reportedly, President Trump indicated during a phone conversation with Senator Lankford that he was “very supportive of the concept behind the bill.

Edward Shulman, Esq., founder and partner of the Shulman Law Group, LLC, in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, said during an interview this morning: “Although the ‘Succeed Act’ is not perfect, it is a balanced bipartisan resolution that holds tremendous promise and represents a hopeful and necessary stepping stone to protect and support young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.”  Mr. Shulman also highlighted the fact that the “Succeed Act,” will likely not be a standalone bill and hopes that it will be incorporated into a larger framework that seeks to provide more comprehensive reformation of existing immigration laws.