A bipartisan group of 16 senators — led by independent Angus King of Maine and Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota — has proposed the latest potential fix to the congressional stalemate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
This new compromise offers legal status and a path to citizenship to individuals whose parents illegally brought them to the U.S. as children, often referred to as “Dreamers.” The approximately 700,000 Dreamers currently registered under DACA — set to expire on March 5, after President Trump rolled back the executive order by which Barack Obama unilaterally created the program absent congressional authority — would automatically qualify for citizenship if they came to the U.S. before June 15, 2007.
Individuals not currently enrolled in DACA must meet the following criteria to be eligible for citizenship:
- Have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012 (when Obama’s DACA executive order was issued)
- Were under age 18 when they entered the U.S. and under age 38 on June 15, 2012
- Meet educational requirements or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (or have been honorably discharged from military service)
- Pass background checks, medical exams, and register for Selective Service, if applicable
The amendment would prevent Dreamers who obtain citizenship from subsequently sponsoring their parents to apply for citizenship themselves.
In addition, the legislation would allocate $25 billion over ten years for border security, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress on the plan for physical barriers, fencing, infrastructure, technology, personnel, and the plan’s estimated timeline. It also instructs the DHS secretary to prioritize resources to enforce immigration law against illegal aliens convicted of crimes, who are deemed a national-security or public-safety threat, or who came to the U.S. illegally after June 30 of this year.
The plan is currently supported by eight Democratic and eight Republican senators, including lead sponsors Rounds and King, along with Susan Collins (R., Maine), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Tim Kaine (D., Va.), Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Ala.), Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.), and Mark Warner (D., Va.). Sixteen co-sponsors falls well short, however, of the 60 needed to pass any immigration legislation. It also falls short of what President Trump and the White House requested in an immigration compromise, including placing stricter limits on family chain migration and putting an end to the diversity visa lottery.