Lankford, Tillis & Hatch Introduce The SUCCEED Act: Merit-Based Legislation To Address The Legal Uncertainty of Undocumented Children

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WASHINGTON, DC During a press conference todaySenators James Lankford (R-OK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation (SUCCEED) Act, a solution to address the legal uncertainty facing undocumented children who were brought to the United States as children. 

The SUCCEED Act provides a fair, multi-step process for undocumented children to qualify for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status by requiring them to earn and maintain their status once they become adults by either being gainfully employed, pursuing postsecondary or vocational education, or serving in the US military. 

“It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally,” said Lankford. “However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents. President Trump rescinded the DACA executive action so that this issue could be resolved the right way—through legislation from Congress. It is time for Congress to stop ignoring the obvious problems with our border security and immigration system and stop pretending that this issue will resolve itself, it will not. To address the uncertainty facing children who were brought to America, the SUCCEED Act is a fair solution that gives them a place to call home, but it also discourages future illegal immigration.” 

“For years, Congress has tried but failed to provide legal uncertainty for undocumented children who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own,” said Tillis. “The SUCCEED Act is a fair and compassionate solution that requires individuals to demonstrate they are productive and law-abiding members of their communities to earn legal status. This is a merit-based solution that should unite members of both parties, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the path forward.”

“I’ve said all along that we need a workable, permanent solution for the Dreamer population,” said Hatch. “This bill provides that solution, in a way that ensures that Dreamers who want to stay in the United States long term get their education and obtain gainful employment. Immigration is a difficult issue, but I’m convinced there’s a path forward on this, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find that path and to enact meaningful reform, which must also include increased border security.”

To qualify for CPR status, undocumented children must first pass a rigorous vetting process. Eligibility and vetting requirements include:

  • Arriving in the US before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012, the enactment date of DACA.
  • Obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, if 18 or older.
  • Passing a thorough criminal background check, which extends to information obtained from INTERPOL or the country of origin to screen for individuals with a criminal past or gang affiliation.
  • Submitting biometric and biographic data to the Department of Homeland Security. 
  • Registering for the military selective service.
  • Paying any existing federal tax liabilities. 
  • Signing an acknowledgment that they will not be eligible for any form of relief or immigration benefit pursuant to the legislation if they are convicted of a crime while on CPR status.

After five years of CPR status, individuals may renew their status for another five years if they fulfill their commitment to pursue at least one of the three merit-based pathways over a 48-month or 60-month period and have demonstrated good moral character. Individuals could lose their CPR status if they fail to fulfill their merit-based obligations, commit a felony or a serious misdemeanor, or become a “public charge” (defined by the USCIS as one who becomes primarily dependent on the government for subsistence).

After 10 years of holding CPR status, individuals would be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Status (LPR) or a “green card” after paying any tax liabilities. The bill requires green card holders to wait a minimum of five years before they are able to apply for naturalization if they choose to do so.

Additionally, the SUCCEED Act prevents the parents of undocumented children from receiving benefits or preferential treatment and prevents undocumented children from petitioning their parents. 

The bill also deters future illegal immigration by requiring future non-immigrant visa recipients to sign a waiver forfeiting any future immigration benefits if they violate the terms of their visa.