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  • Washington Highlights

    Congress Mulls Dreamer Legislation

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The Senate Judiciary Committee held an Oct. 3 hearing on “Oversight of the Administration’s Decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA].” As a witness at the hearing, Denisse Rojas Marquez, co-founder of the Pre-Health Dreamers, stated, “I am currently studying medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (one of the premier medical schools in the country) and two years away from becoming an MD, after which I intend to work as a doctor in underserved communities…Terminating DACA means I will not be able to practice as a doctor.”

    Since the Administration’s Sept. 5 rescission of the DACA program, which set up a March 5, 2018, deadline for congressional action before current DACA recipients begin losing their status [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 8], Congress has debated several legislative remedies.

    The AAMC Sept. 14 led more than 70 health professions organizations in a letter urging Congress “to ensure that all members of the health care workforce with [DACA] status are able to continue their employment, education, training, and research, with passage of a permanent legislative remedy, such as the bipartisan, bicameral Dream Act of 2017” [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 15].

    In July, Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Reps. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the Dream Act of 2017 (S.1615, H.R. 3440), which would establish an 8-year conditional permanent residency status for undocumented American children known as “Dreamers,” allowing students to apply for green cards during that time and eventually for naturalization.

    Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) March 22 introduced the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act (H.R. 1468), which is similar to the Dream Act, but requires five years before application for a green card, and allows the government to remove legal status if recipients do not stay employed or enrolled in school.

    Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) Sept. 25 introduced the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act (S. 1852), with a minimum 15-year path to citizenship for Dreamers, and prohibitions against parents of recipients receiving benefits or residency in the U.S.

    The hearing also examined additional immigration reforms that may be attached to Dreamer legislation, including border security, infrastructure, and enforcement. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Oct. 5 introduced the Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act (S. 1937), which incorporates several of those themes, but otherwise mirrors the RAC Act. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently committed to passing a “clean” Dream Act.