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GOP unveils new young immigrants bill

The bill includes provisions meant to curb future illegal immigration into the United States. It would require future temporary visa holders to sign a waiver that would otherwise grant them an immigration hearing or other immigration-related benefits if they violate the terms of their visa. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

The bill includes provisions meant to curb future illegal immigration into the United States. It would require future temporary visa holders to sign a waiver that would otherwise grant them an immigration hearing or other immigration-related benefits if they violate the terms of their visa. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON (AFP) , September 25, 2017 — A new Senate GOP proposal released Monday would create a pathway to legalization for so-called Dreamers, but it wouldn’t allow them to sponsor family members to the United States — one of several provisions that make the bill far more conservative than other relief measures for young undocumented immigrants.
The chief writers of the bill — Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma — have touted their plan as a more GOP-friendly vision for the fate of young undocumented immigrants in the United States, especially compared to the DREAM Act, which was introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The new Dreamer blueprint is already hitting resistance from liberal immigration advocates and conservative hard-liners, though Lankford said President Donald Trump indicated during a phone conversation with him that he was “very supportive” of the concept behind the bill.
“We’ll have to take the hits,” Tillis said at a news conference Monday promoting the bill. “We’ll take the hits on the far left for saying you’re not getting them to citizenship soon enough, and you’ll take it on the far right for saying you’ve ever given them an opportunity to pursue citizenship.”
Tillis and Lankford hope their legislation, called the Succeed Act, can win support from conservatives as Congress scrambles for a fix following the White House’s decision to begin revoking work permits and deportation protections early next year for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers.
Details of the bill, which is also sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), were obtained by Politico in advance of its release.
Under current law, green card holders can petition for close relatives such as a spouse or children to obtain permanent residency. But Trump has repeatedly slammed the concept of “chain migration,” a term critics use to describe U.S. citizens or permanent residents sponsoring their foreign relatives to come to the United States.
“CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” Trump tweeted earlier this month.
Tillis and Lankford have tried to address that demand by barring Dreamers who would obtain green cards through their legislation from petitioning family members, although they would be able to sponsor them if they become citizens, according to a person familiar with the legislation.
“The people who are moving through the green card process are people who’ve gone through the process legally over a period of time,” Tillis said, defending the provision targeting chain migration. “This is a special group of people that we want to provide a solution to, but not necessarily let them expedite the potential admission of other persons.”
Some of the nuts and bolts of the new GOP bill, which essentially creates a 15-year path to citizenship, are similar to those in past proposals addressing the issue of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
To be eligible under the Succeed Act, an immigrant must have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2012 — the start of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era executive action that Trump said he would end — and before the age of 16. They would be required to obtain a high school diploma, pass a “thorough” criminal background check, submit biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security and pay off any back taxes or establish a repayment plan.
This would give the Dreamers a “conditional permanent residence” status. If they maintained that status for 10 years, they could apply for a formal green card. Under conditional permanent residence, the Dreamers would have to earn a college degree, serve in the military for at least three years or be consistently employed.
The status would have to be renewed after five years. Once they obtain green cards, the immigrants would be required to wait for five years before they could apply for U.S. citizenship, according to the legislation. Undocumented parents of Dreamers who would qualify under the new Republican bill would be barred from petitioning to stay in the United States based on their children’s legal status.


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