Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, reacting to reported details of new Dreamer legislation from Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and James Lankford (R-OK) that is set for introduction later today.
“Dreamers are young Americans, and the American people want Congress to enact legislation that finally and formally recognizes this fact. Unfortunately, new legislation to be introduced today by Republican Senators Tillis and Lankford falls far short of meeting this test.
It is foundational in the U.S. immigration system that those admitted be treated equitably and be given a chance to become U.S. citizens within three to five years, with all the rights and responsibilities that citizenship entails. But the Tillis-Lankford version of Dreamer legislation, based on the reported details, includes a number of disturbing provisions. It requires eligible Dreamers to wait nearly two decades before being eligible for citizenship. It excludes the oldest Dreamers—those who have lived here the longest—from the program entirely. It makes it difficult for Dreamers to sponsor their loved ones under the legal immigration system. And it requires Dreamers to sign away future legal rights by forcing them to sign a voluntary deportation order subjecting them to automatic removal if they violate certain terms of their status. This undermines the most fundamental due process principles by forcing Dreamers—at the front end of their application process—to relinquish their right to any form of relief at a hearing before a fair impartial immigration judge.
None of these provisions are applied to other groups of admitted immigrants. Why, then, does this bill send this group of young Americans to the back of the bus?
The introduction of Dreamer-focused legislation by two conservative members of the U.S. Senate is a sign that Republicans recognize they have a political problem on their hands, but their proposed policy solution is a non-starter. Dreamers are Americans in every way but one – and that’s what needs to be addressed in a straightforward way by legislation. The bipartisan Dream Act, sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and Representatives Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), does just that. That is the bill Congress needs to enact, and soon.”
Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice
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