Republican Bill Would Offer a Path to Some Young Undocumented Immigrants

Communications Associate

June 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today two House Republicans introduced a bill that would offer certain young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children an opportunity to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Mike Coffman of Colorado have introduced the Recognizing American Children Act, striking a tone far different from the party’s presumptive nominee for president.

Under the bill, certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children could earn “conditional nonimmigrant status” if they pursue a degree from an institution of higher education, enlist in the armed services, or are employed and meet certain other requirements.

The conditional nonimmigrant status would last for five years. After the five years, the recipient would be eligible to extend his/her status or adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident if they have met all requirements.

But the bill also has shortcomings.

The eligibility period is shorter than the one in the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013. Also unlike that bill, this proposal would not allow any individuals who have left the country to apply.

In addition, the bill could exclude career training programs that would be helpful to employers, and it includes strict criteria that would be difficult for some young people to meet as students or young workers.

“It is fantastic to see some leadership on immigration among House Republicans,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Despite some room for improvement, this proposal stands favorably next to the messages about mass deportation and walls that have ruled the Republican presidential campaign.

“There is room and support for conservatives to lead on immigration reform that can work for America. But the proof of Republicans’ commitment must go beyond this legislation.

“When the rubber meets the road in 2017, will Republicans and Democrats be able to work together and pass a new immigration process? We’ll be looking to these members of Congress and others for the leadership we need.”