Siskind Summary – The Dream Act of 2017

By Greg Siskind (gsiskind@visalaw.com)

Siskind Susser, PC – Immigration Lawyers – www.visalaw.com

S. 1615

Section 1. Title of the bill is the Dream Act of 2017.

Section 2. Definitions

DACA – Means deferred action granted pursuant to the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program announced by President Obama on 6/12/2012.

Disability – Same definition as in Section 3(1) the ADA

Early Childhood Education Program – Same as Section 103 of the Higher Education Act of ‘65

Elementary School; High School; Secondary School – From Section 8101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965

Immigration Laws – from Section 101(a)(17) of the INA

Institution of Higher Education – From Section 2012 of the Higher Education Act of ’65; excludes institutions outside the US

Permanent Resident Status on a Conditional Basis – means status as a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis under this bill.

Poverty Line – from Section 673 of the Community Services Block Grant Act

Secretary – Department of Homeland Security Secretary

Uniformed Services – from Section 201(a) of Title 10 of the US Code

 

Section 3. Permanent Resident Status on a Conditional Basis for Certain Long-Term Residents Who Entered the US as Children

Anyone who gets permanent residence under the section gets it on a conditional basis.

DHS shall cancel the removal of, and adjust to permanent residence, an alien who is deportable from the US or in TPS if

  • The person has been physically present in the US since the date 4 years before the bill is enacted
  • The person was younger than 18 on the date of initial entry to the US
  • The person isn’t inadmissible under paragraphs (2) [criminal grounds], (3) [security grounds], (6)(E) Alien smugglers, (6)(G) [student visa abusers), (8) [draft evaders and people permanently ineligible for citizenship], (10)(A) [practicing polygamists], (10)(C) [international child abductors, (10)(D) [unlawful voters]
  • The person hasn’t participated in persecuting people on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion and
  • Hasn’t been convicted of any state or federal offense that is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum term of more than 1 year; or 3 or more offense under state or federal law and imprisoned for an aggregate of 90 days or more
  • The alien has been admitted to an education of higher education; has earned a high school diploma or a state recognized GED; or is enrolled in high school or an educational program leading to a GED or a high school diploma.

DHS may waive inadmissibility grounds under section (2), (6)(E), (6)(G) or (10)(D) [see above] for humanitarian purposes of family unity if the waiver is otherwise in the public interest.

Expunged convictions shall not automatically be treated as an offense and shall be treated on a case by case basis according to the nature and severity of the offense to determine eligibility for cancellation of removal and adjustment of status.

DHS shall cancel the removal of and adjust to permanent residence on a conditional basis DACA recipients unless the person has engaged in conduct since being granted DACA that would have made him or her ineligible for DACA.

DHS can charge a reasonable fee commensurate with the cost of processing the application. Fee exemptions available if an applicant is

  • Is under 18, had income over the last year less than 150% of the poverty line and is in foster care
  • Is under 18 and is homeless;
  • Can’t care for himself or herself because of a serious chronic disability and received total income less than 150% of the poverty line; or
  • In the 12 months before filing the application, accumulated more than $10,000 in medical debt and over the last 12 months had received total income less than 150% of the poverty line.

DHS may not grant a green card unless the alien submits biometric and biographic data (unless physical impairment prevents).

DHS will use biometrics to conduct security and law enforcement background checks. Such checks must be completed before the grant of permanent residence.

Applicants must undergo a medical exam.

Applicants must register for the military draft if subject to registration.

“Continuous physical presence” is not terminated by a Notice to Appear for applicants for permanent residency under this Act.

Continuous physical presence is not maintained if a person has departed the US for any period greater than 90 days or for any periods, in the aggregate, exceeding 180 days. But extensions may be granted for extenuating circumstances beyond the person’s control including serious illness or death or serious illness of a parent, grandparent, sibling, or child of the alien. And periods of travel authorized by DHS won’t count.

DHS and DOJ may not remove people who appear to be prima facie eligible for relief under this bill. And aliens in removal proceedings or subject to a final removal order or the subject of a voluntary departure order who appear prima facie eligible shall be permitted to apply.

Removal proceedings will be stayed for children who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements and are at least five and enrolled in elementary school, secondary school or an early childhood education program. These individuals are eligible for work cards.

Green cards granted under this section won’t count against any numerical limitations in the INA.

 

Section 4. Terms of Permanent Resident Status on a Conditional Basis.

Permanent resident status is granted on a conditional basis for a period of 8 years unless the period is extended by DHS. Conditional permanent residence may be terminated if DHS determines the person has become inadmissible on one of the grounds noted above. People who lose their conditional permanent residency will revert back to the immigration status they had before being granted conditional permanent residency status unless the person had TPS and TPS is no longer available or the person no longer is eligible for TPS.

 

Section 5. Removal of Conditional Basis of Permanent Resident Status.

DHS shall remove the conditional basis of the green card if the person has not abandoned residence in the US and has 1) acquired a degree from an institution of higher education or completed at least two years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher education degree in the US; 2) has served in the Uniformed Services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, received an honorable discharge; or 3) has been employed for periods totaling at least 3 years and at least 75% of the time that the person has had a valid employment authorization (excluding time enrolled in school).  Exceptions are available if there are compelling circumstances and the person has a disability, is a full-time caregiver for a minor child or the removal of the person would result in extreme hardship to the person or their spouse, parent or child who is a national of the US or a permanent resident.

Conditions may only be removed if the person meets the English language and civics knowledge requirements applicable to naturalization applicants (exceptions are made for disability).

DHS can charge a reasonable fee commensurate with the cost of processing the condition removal application. Fee exemptions available if an applicant is

  • Is under 18, had income over the last year less than 150% of the poverty line and is in foster care
  • Is under 18 and is homeless;
  • Can’t care for himself or herself because of a serious chronic disability and received total income less than 150% of the poverty line; or
  • In the 12 months before filing the application, accumulated more than $10,000 in medical debt and over the last 12 months had received total income less than 150% of the poverty line.

DHS may not grant the removal of conditional residence unless the alien submits biometric and biographic data (unless physical impairment prevents).

DHS will use biometrics to conduct security and law enforcement background checks. Such checks must be completed before the grant of a removal of conditional residence.

Time spent in conditional permanent residency will count toward citizenship, but one must have conditional status removed before being eligible for citizenship.

 

Section 6. Documentation Requirements.

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of identity –

  1. a passport or national ID document from the applicant’s country of origin that includes the applicant’s photograph or fingerprint;
  2. the applicant’s birth certificate and an ID card with the person’s name and photograph;
  3. a school ID card with the student’s name and photograph and school records show the student’s name and that he or she was enrolled;
  4. a Uniformed Services ID card issued by the Department of Defense;
  5. any immigration or other document issued by the US government bearing the person’s name and photograph; or
  6. a state-issued ID card bearing he person’s name and photo.

 

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of continuous physical presence in the US –

  1. employment records with the employer’s name and contact information;
  2. records from a school the person has attended in the US;
  3. Uniformed Services records;
  4. official records from a religious entity showing participation in a religious ceremony;
  5. passport entries;
  6. a birth certificate for a child born in the US;
  7. automobile license receipts or registration;
  8. deeds, mortgages, or rental agreement contracts;
  9. tax receipts;
  10. insurance policies;
  11. remittance records;
  12. rent receipts or utility bills bearing the person’s name or the name of an immediate family member of the person or the person’s address;
  13. copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the US;
  14. dated bank transactions; or
  15. 2 or more sworn affidavits from people not related to the applicant who have direct knowledge of the person’s continuous physical presence in the US that contain the name, address and phone number of the affiant and the nature and duration of the relationship between the affiant and the applicant.

 

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of initial entry into the US –

  1. an admission stamp on the alien’s passport;
  2. records from a school the applicant has attended in the US;
  3. any document from DOJ or DHS stating the person’s date of entry into the US;
  4. hospital or medical records showing medical treatment or hospitalization, the name of the medical facility or physician and the date of treatment or hospitalization;
  5. rennet receipts or utility bills bearing the person’s name or the name of an immediate family member of the applicant and the applicant’s address;
  6. employment records including employer’s name and address;
  7. official records from a religious entity showing participation in a religious ceremony;
  8. a birth certificate for a child born in the us;
  9. automobile license receipts or registration;
  10. deeds, mortgages or rental agreement contracts;
  11. tax receipts;
  12. travel records;
  13. copies of money order receipts sent in or out of the country;
  14. dated bank transactions;
  15. remittance records; or
  16. insurance policies.

 

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of admission to an institution of higher education a document from the institution of higher education certifying the applicant has been admitted to the institution or is currently enrolled in the institution as a student.

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of receipt of a degree from an institution of higher education a diploma or other document stating the person has received the degree.

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of receipt of high school diploma, GED certificate or a recognized equivalent a high school diploma, certificate of completion or other alternate award; a high school equivalency diploma or certificate recognized under state law; or evidence the person has passed a state-authorized exam, including the GED exam in the US.

Applicants for permanent residence can show as proof of enrollment in an educational program school records that include the name of the school and the student’s name, periods of attendance and current grade or educational level.

Documents showing exemption from the application fee –

  • Proof that applicant is under 18 years of age
  • To show income, employment records maintained by SSA, the IRS or any other government agency; bank records; or at least 2 sworn affidavits from people who are not relatives who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s work
  • To show foster care, lack of family support, homelessness or disability, the applicant shall provide at least 2 sworn affidavits from people not related to the applicant with direct knowledge of the circumstances
  • To show unpaid medical expenses, provide receipts or other documentation from the medical provider documenting the treatment and the level of debt.

To show hardship, the applicant shall provide at least 2 sworn affidavits from people not related to the applicant with direct knowledge of the circumstances

To show service in the Uniform Services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, that the discharge was honorable,

  • DOD form DD-214
  • National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service form 22
  • Personnel records for such service
  • Health records from the appropriate Uniformed Service

 

Documents establishing employment –

  • Records establishing compliance with employment requirements and that have been maintained with the SSA, IRS or other government agencies
  • If these aren’t available, at least 2 types of reliable documents including bank records, business records, employment records, records of a labor union, day labor center, or organization that assists workers in employment, sworn affidavits from people not related who have direct knowledge of the work, and remittance records.

DHS has the authority to make changes to this list.

 

Section 7. Rulemaking

DHS must publish rules within 90 days after the date of enactment of the Act allowing people to apply for permanent residency without being placed in removal proceedings. The regulations shall be effective on an interim basis immediately upon publication. Final rules must be published within 180 days.

 

Section 8. Confidentiality of Information.

DHS may not use information used in filing applications under this Act or for DACA for immigration enforcement.

DHS may not refer people granted permanent residence or granted DACA to ICE, CBP or any designee of the two agencies except to assist in considering applications for permanent residence, to prevent fraud, for national security purposes or investing or prosecuting any felonies not related to immigration status. Fines of up to $10,000 for violations of this section.

 

Section 9. Restoration of state option to determine residency for purposes of higher education benefits.

IIRAIRA (Immigration Action of 1996) Section 505 restricting access to in state tuition is repealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind is a partner with Siskind Susser, PC - Immigration Lawyers. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he received his law degree at the University of Chicago. He created the first immigration law web site in 1994 and the first law blog in 1997. He's written four books and currently serves on the board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He can be reached by email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.
Greg Siskind
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