WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican senators unveiled a bill Monday that may provide a path to citizenship for millions of young undocumented immigrants.
Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and James Lankford, of Oklahoma, introduced what they call a conservative solution to help protect those brought to the U.S. as children as Congress continues to race the calendar to the end of the DACA program.
The Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our nation, or SUCCEED Act, would use factors like education, work experience or military service to decide if an individual can stay in the country.
“It’s completely merit-based,” said Sen. Tillis. “If you work hard, follow the law, pay your taxes, You can stay here permanently. It promotes fairness.”
The SUCCEED Act would allow individuals to apply for permits for successive five-year periods, after which they could pursue a legal permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
The bill would apply to the following individuals:
- Those brought to the U.S. under age 16
- Those who have lived here since 2012 and were under 31 at that time
- Those who have achieved a high school diploma or equivalent and who are pursuing higher educations
- Those who have held a job or have served in the military
All applicants would be required to undergo rigorous criminal background checks.
“This bill, I believe, is a fair and orderly method for providing a permanent solution for the DACA children. It will not allow chain migration and it has fairly high standards for people to actually be eligible for the program.” Sen. Tillis explains.
In addition, the Succeed Act would:
- Prohibit individuals who achieve legal residency under the bill from sponsoring family members
- Tighten restrictions on overstaying a visa
- Limit the Homeland Security department’s future ability to offer exceptions to categories of undocumented immigrants
This bill would need the buy-in of GOP leadership in the House and Senate and would need to survive negotiations with Democrats to pass.