• Jorge Velasco

The Unconstitutional DACA Needs To Be Replaced With The SUCCEED Act. Here’s Why.

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Sixteen years ago, a potential bill named the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors”, also known as the DREAM Act, was introduced to Congress by Senator Hatch (R-Utah). This Bill would allow children older than 12 that had lived in the US for 5 years or more to be under protected “Dreamer” status. Although it was required to have a High School diploma, it was not necessary unless the applicant had a “reasonable opportunity”, such as the alien applying for work. But this Bill never received any Bipartisan support, getting no more than the approval of 20 senators, mostly Democrats.

Fast forward 11 years, and then- President Obama is trying to build the DREAM Act’s foundation, only this time with about 4 times more the benefits than in 2001. Once again, the Bill never got any backing from more than 50 Senators, so President Obama revisited the situation and decided to mislead the American people. Instead of continuing to advocate for the DREAM Act, he bypassed Congress and unconstitutionally wrote an executive order implementing the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, also known as DACA.

The program would give amnesty and benefits, such as social security and other government welfare, to almost 800,000 illegal immigrants who were “dropped off at the border as children” although the median age was as young as 15 to as old as 36. Obama acknowledged in 2010 that he would not do this because he is “not a king”. In 2011, he said with “respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” And later that year in May, he stated that “ [I] could not just bypass Congress and change the (immigration) law myself. … That’s not how a democracy works.” Yet, he completely disregarded his statements and followed through with his plan.

On his campaign trail, Candidate Trump announced, if elected, he would terminate the DACA program, putting a little less than 800,000 “Dreamers” at a gridlock. In September of 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump would erase DACA and let Congress take care of problem. He later tweeted that Representatives have six months to solve the problem. Note that President Trump did not take a pen and completely deny Congress any attempt to save DACA.

So it is currently January of 2018 and no significant progress has occurred towards saving Dreamers. Although many are considering to finally sign the DREAM Act after 17 years, there is one that really stands out. There is the “Bar Removal of Individuals of Dreamers who Grow our Economy Act”, or the BRIDGE Act, the “Recognizing America’s Children Act”, the “America Hope Act”, and the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy Act”. But then there is the SUCCEED Act. The same Senator who introduced the DREAM Act in 2001, Senator Hatch (R-Utah), is at the front foot along with Senator Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Senator Lankford (R-Oklahoma) sponsoring the “Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation Act”.

Yes, the SUCCEED Act. The bill would allow Dreamers to earn permanent legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements that would contribute to our economy. The criteria to qualify under SUCCEED is simple: 1.) Not commit any misdemeanors or crime of any sort 2.) Be younger than 31 years old 3.) Either have earned a high school diploma, enlist or be enlisted in the US Armed Forces

After ten years, an applicant can apply for green card status if they continue to follow the SUCCEED guidelines. However, this bill would not allow chain migration in any form once an applicant becomes a permanent citizen.

The Bill carries a uniqueness from other potential Bills, such as the RAC Act and the DREAM Act. First, SUCCEED allows the applicant to pursue a “combination track”, meaning a career of their choice after attaining a basic, educational diploma. Secondly, the Bill’s criteria states that applicants will only be eligible if they provide for the economy, although the RAC allows for applicants to enter without a merit-based system. Thirdly, SUCCEED has a longer path to permanent status, it being 10 years, RAC being five, and DREAM being three. Fourth, Dreamers must comply with nearly all forms of immigration benefits and relief if, at any time during the 10 years they have SUCCEED status, they fail to continue to meet the bill’s requirements, they are subject by the DHS to have their status terminated and deported. Fifth, the applicant agrees that, if they abuse their visa and overstay, they are subject to have an immigration court hearing and possible termination. This is a major problem as 42% of undocumented aliens have overstayed their visa.

Congress has until March to solve the current complication or President Trump “will have to revisit the problem” as stated in a tweet back in October.