September 26, 2017

Conservatives Have a DREAM Act

The SUCCEED Act has some merit but extends legal status to potentially 2.5 million illegals.

Two Republican senators on Monday introduced what they’re calling the “conservative alternative” to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and James Lankford (R-OK) are touting the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our nation (SUCCEED) Act, a tortured acronym of a name that seeks to address the sympathetic immigrants at the center of the debate over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). After Donald Trump announced he’d end Barack Obama’s unconstitutional program, declaring he wanted a legislative solution, the GOP is working to provide just that. The question is whether it’s a good solution.

Tillis and Lankford call SUCCEED “a fair and merit-based solution” that provides “undocumented children with the opportunity to earn and keep legal status if they meet specific requirements, pass an extensive criminal background check, and follow one or a combination of three merit-based tracks to demonstrate they are productive members of their communities.” The senators say it’s based on four core principles: compassion, merit, prevention and fairness.

“This is not an amnesty bill,” Lankford insisted, in part because he says it will require companion legislation on border security. Unless one defines amnesty as “whatever lets illegals stay,” Lankford is correct, and the bill has some merit. But it also has the potential for numbers that will alarm some conservatives. Despite its stringent requirements, McClatchy reports the bill could “provide a pathway to citizenship for as many as 2.5 million young undocumented immigrants.” Given that DACA only affected between 800,000 and one million, that’s a big deal.

Republicans are bowing to what they perceive as political reality. Americans by and large are sympathetic toward these “children” (some of whom are as old as 36). This is by Democrat design. As we said last week, Democrats love to use broad brush strokes in painting an overly simplistic portrait of these Dreamers with the goal of including as many illegal aliens as possible in this protected class. Thus, vast majorities of Americans want to help “Dreamers,” though they also favor tightening border security and things like employer verification. Will enough Republicans see this as an improvement over the status quo to pass it?

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