By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2017
Two Republican senators are introducing a slimmed-down version of the Dream Act on Monday, hoping to offer a slightly more conservative option to grant a pathway to citizenship to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
The legislation, from Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, appears to break with a number of the principles President Trump laid out, including still allowing chain migration while including no new security measures.
Instead the bill, which the senators have dubbed the Succeed Act, grants a long, multi-tiered path to citizen that requires illegal immigrants to prove they’re holding down a job, are pursuing a higher education or are in the military in order to stay in the program.
They would be protected from deportation from the beginning, but could only move on to permanent legal status and eventually citizenship if they continued to meet benchmarks, including paying taxes and proving they haven’t landed on the public dole.
That is tougher than other proposals already floating around.
The senators said they believe their bill “deters future illegal immigration” and prevents chain migration” — though it was not clear how it would achieve those.
The legislation would delay the point at which Dreamers could sponsor family, but once they are full citizens they could still petition for legal status for their parents — often the very people who brought them to the U.S. illegally in the first place.
It’s unclear how the bill fits into the developing debate over Dreamers.
Already, several bipartisan versions that are slightly more generous have been introduced.
But GOP leaders — including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan — have said any bill must go beyond mere legal status, and also include security and enforcement measures that would prevent another wave of illegal immigrants in the future.
Mr. Trump has gone even further, saying earlier this month that the eventual solution should block chain migration.
The Lankford-Tillis legislation does, however, underscore the appetite among many Republicans to figure a way to grant Dreamers full citizenship rights.
Long the most sympathetic figures in the immigration debate, many Dreamers are deeply invested in the U.S., including having attended top colleges and graduate programs, or served in the military. They are usually seen as blameless victims of their parents’ decisions — which is why allowing them to be the anchors for their parents to eventually claim legal status irks those who want to see an immigration crackdown.
Immigrant-rights advocates, meanwhile, said Mr. Lankford and Mr. Tillis were being too strict by making illegal immigrants wait too long before being able to claim citizenship, and to sponsor their parents and other family for legal status as well.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, also objected to a provision that would require Dreamers to agree to be deported if they break the terms of the legalization program.
“None of these provisions are applied to other groups of admitted immigrants. Why, then, does this bill send this group of young Americans to the back of the bus?” Mr. Sharry said.