Senators Collins, King Lead Effort to Protect Dreamers, Strengthen Border Security

Surrounded by Growing Group of Bipartisan Cosponsors, Senators Urge support for the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act

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Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks (To download high-quality video, click HERE)

Click HERE to watch Senator King’s remarks (To download high-quality video, click HERE)

Washington, D.C. — Surrounded by a growing number of cosponsors, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) hosted a press conference this afternoon to urge their colleagues to support the Immigration Security and Opportunity Act, bipartisan legislation they introduced with 16 Senators to protect “Dreamers” and to strengthen border security.  A vote on their amendment is scheduled for this afternoon.

The Senators are part of the Common Sense Coalition, a group of 25 Republican, Democratic, and Independent Senators convened by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have been meeting nearly every day in Senator Collins’ office to develop a framework to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other immigration issues.

 

“This is the one and only bill that deals with immigration issues with broad, bipartisan support,” said Senator Collins.  “Our legislation would protect young people who were brought to the United States as children illegally through no decision of their own, and it would secure our borders to prevent illegal immigration and drug smuggling, which has devastated families and communities across our nation.  It is important that we act quickly to address these pressing issues and remove the cloud of uncertainty over the heads of young people who are contributing to our society and our economy.”

 

“This is an important first step because the time is ticking for these young people who have been in this country, and also it’s time to step up and address the issue of border security,” Senator King said. “This is a critical moment. I know this a difficult vote for many of our members, but this is a vote where really we need to focus on what’s in the bill, and what’s in the bill is dealing with these young people and dealing with border security…Finally the thing I’d like to say is how extraordinary it is to have this group here who have met literally daily, almost every day – phone calls on weekends, some weekend meetings – for the past three or four weeks to get to this point, who have trusted one another, who have had open discussion and debate. And I think the result is a bill that has a real chance of making a difference with broad bipartisan support.”

 

The lead sponsors of the legislation are Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME), and the original cosponsors include Senators: Susan Collins (R-ME) , Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Doug Jones (D-AL).

 

Highlights of the bipartisan proposal include:

 

Legal Status and Path to Citizenship for Young People Brought to the US as Children.

 

The amendment provides legal status and a path to citizenship to individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. Individuals who are registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program automatically qualify, if they arrived in this country by June 15, 2007, unless they have engaged in conduct that would make them ineligible. To obtain legal status, individuals not enrolled in the DACA program must:

 

  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, the date of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order;

 

  • Have been under age 18 when they entered the U.S., and under age 38 on June 15, 2012;

 

  • Meet educational requirements or be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (or have been honorably discharged from military service); and

 

  • Pass background checks, medical exams, and register for the Selective Service, if applicable.

 

Individuals do not qualify if they are convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors. Individuals are required to pay any federal tax liability incurred while working legally in the U.S.

 

Beneficiaries can apply for citizenship after 12 years, and up to 2 years of credit will be given for time with DACA.

 

 

PROHIBITION ON DACA BENEFICIARIES SPONSORING THEIR PARENTS FOR CITIZENSHIP

 

The amendment includes language prohibiting parents from using their Dreamer children’s newly granted citizenship to apply for citizenship themselves.

 

 

BORDER SECURITY

 

The amendment authorizes and appropriates $25 billion in funding for Northern and Southern border security over the next 10 years.  The bill requires DHS to provide detailed reports to Congress on its security plan, including physical barriers, fencing, tactical infrastructure, technology, personnel, and the milestones for implementing this plan.

 

Funding after the first year is released each year once the DHS Secretary certifies that at least 75 percent of the goals for the prior year have been reached.  Sixty votes would be required in order to prevent funding for each fiscal year.

 

The bill also directs the Secretary to prioritize enforcement resources against aliens who:

 

  • Have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors;

 

  • Are a threat to national security or public safety; or

 

  • Are unlawfully present and arrived in the U.S. after January 1, 2018.