At the same time that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is now at risk of being terminated by the courts or the administration, pressure is building on Congress to pass legislation which permanently addresses the difficulty of undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as children. Two bills already have been introduced this year that would do just that: the Dream Act of 2017 and the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act.
The Dream Act of 2017, introduced earlier last month in the Senate, is the most recent legislative proposal to focus on undocumented youth. Applicants must have arrived in the United States before the age of 18, lived here for four years or more, and not have a criminal record. Among this group, those with a high-school diploma or equivalent would be eligible for “conditional status.” Those who also have an associate’s degree, two years of military service, or at least three years of continuous employment would qualify for legal permanent residence.
The RAC Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in March 2017, would apply to young people under the age of 16 who arrived in the United States at least five years ago and have no criminal record. A ten-year conditional status would be granted to those who were at least 18 years old and had a high-school diploma. Permanent residence would go to those who are enrolled in college during their first year of conditional status, serve in the military for three years, or work for at least four years.
While the details of these bills may differ, they each signal the bipartisan support that exists for finding a lasting solution for the undocumented youth.