Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, announced a new proposal on Monday that could create a pathway to legalization for young undocumented immigrants in place of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The bill, titled the SUCCEED Act, would provide undocumented children with the opportunity to earn and keep legal status if they meet specific requirements, pass an extensive criminal background check and follow one or a combination of three merit-based tracks to demonstrate they are productive members of their communities.
Tillis is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. James Lankford, R-OK.
“The SUCCEED Act, I believe, is a fair, compassionate, merit-based solution to the challenge we have with children who came here through no fault of their own and now find themselves uncertain about their future in this country,” Tillis said in a press conference. “It resolves that uncertainty surrounding their legal status — for children.”
“If you work hard, if you follow the law and you pay your taxes, you can stay here permanently,” he said.
To be eligible under the SUCCEED Act, an immigrant must have been in the United States since the start of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — June 15, 2012 — and must have been under the age of 16 upon arrival. They would be required to obtain a high school diploma, pass a thorough criminal background check, submit biographic data to the Department of Homeland Security and pay off any back taxes or establish a repayment plan.
President Donald Trump’s administration ended DACA — the product of executive action by former president Barack Obama — Sept. 5.
Unlike DACA, which provided temporary protection for immigrants under the age of 16 who were brought to the United States illegally, the SUCCEED Act outlines a 15-year path to citizenship.
Under the act, undocumented immigrants must apply for “conditional permanent resident” status, which they must maintain for 10 years before applying for a formal green card. Those classified under this status must either earn a college degree, serve in the military for at least three years or be consistently employed. Once immigrants obtain a green card, they must wait five years before applying for citizenship.