Bipartisan DACA Bill Introduced

September 17, 2021

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the America’s Children Act, providing a path to citizenship for 200,000 “Documented Dreamers,” as DACA provisions face an uphill battle to be included in the Senate reconciliation bill.

The America’s Children Act would: 

  • Allow access to Green Cards to individuals who were brought to the United States as dependent children of workers admitted under approved employer petitions, have maintained status in the United States for 10 years (including four years as a dependent), and have graduated from an institution of higher education;

  • Establish age-out protections that lock in a child’s age on the date on which they file for a green card rather than the final action date; and

  • Provide work authorization for Documented Dreamers over the age of 16 whose green card applications are pending.

Meanwhile, Democrats are aiming to provide a path to citizenship for 8 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers, in the budget reconciliation package. 

The move is broadly viewed as a "Hail Mary" attempt, as momentum to pass a DACA measure under normal rules has largely evaporated.  The pressure is on—earlier this year U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA was unlawful but stayed the ruling for existing DACA recipients, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to continue granting renewals of DACA protections.

Outlook:  The America’s Children Act is encouraging as a bipartisan effort to address the long-standing issue, but the challenges presented in Senate negotiations earlier this year—particularly, attaching border security provisions to a DACA measure—remain.  At this junction it appears unlikely that the Senate Parliamentarian will approve the budget reconciliation bill’s immigration provisions, which must directly impact the federal budget to be included.