Following the Trump Administration's decision to terminate the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program effective March 6, 2018, there are four possible DACA replacement bills that are currently being considered by Congress: the BRIDGE Act, the RAC Act, the SUCCEED Act, and the DREAM Act. The expediency of the decision-making process of Congress will be critical to the lives of an estimated 700,000 dreamers who are living and working legally in the United States under the DACA program. The Shulman Law Group, LLC, has provided a brief descriptive summary of the four proposed DACA replacement options, set forth as follows.
The BRIDGE Act, which stands for "Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow our Economy Act," was first introduced in January of 2017 by Republican Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado and has received equal bi-partisan support (16 Republican Representatives and 16 Democratic Representatives have already signed to support the bill). The Act is essentially a three-year visa that must be renewed by Congress. Notably, the Act does not support a pathway to citizenship and disallows travel outside of the United States during the three-year visa period.
The RAC Act, which stands for "Recognizing America's Children Act" was first introduced by Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo in March of 2017. This Act has 35 Republican supporters and only one Democratic sponsor to date, which is surprising given the fact that it provides more future possibilities to eligible individuals as compared with the BRIDGE Act . Unlike the BRIDGE Act, the RAC Act actually grants conditional permanent residency and a green card after five years instead of a visa. In addition, the RAC Act provides a pathway to citizenship after 10 years and allows recipients to travel outside of the United States right away.
The SUCCEED Act, which stands for "Solution for Undocumented Children Through Careers, Education, Defending our Nation Act" was introduced in the Senate in September of 2017 by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis. So far, there are only to other Republican Senators, apart from Tillis, to sign on to this Act. Under the SUCCEED Act, after 15 years as both a conditional permanent resident and a green card holder, DACA recipients would be eligible to apply for citizenship. As with the RAC Act, international travel is also allowed under the SUCCEED bill.
The DREAM Act, which stands for "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act," is most notably the longest running of the four proposed bills (proposed in different versions by different congress members), is the only one to have been introduced in both the House and the Senate, and has the most support, with 211 sponsors to date. Noteworthy is the fact that of the four bills, the DREAM Act is by far the most generous in terms of its inherent pro-immigrant stance. Unfortunately, only 9 of the 211 sponsors are Republican and with this lack of bi-partisan support, the bill has essentially been immobilized. Importantly, the DREAM Act provides the most expedient pathway for legalization, allowing a recipient to apply for citizenship after five years as a legal permanent resident.
It is also consequential to note that Congress may reject all four of these bills and opt to write a brand new bill entirely. The million dollar question that presents itself is whether or not the two parties will be able to agree on the details of the bill. If they cannot, the futures of 700,000 current DACA recipients will hang in an uncertain balance.
If you are a current DACA recipient with questions about these possible DACA replacement options and about your potential course of action should no bill be passed in advance of the prescribed termination date, we invite you to schedule a consultation appointment with the Shulman Law Group, LLC, a well-reputed and highly rated immigration firm located in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, to explore your options and other potential avenues of relief.