As the Immigration Debate Ramps up, Here are The Leading Bills Already Pending in Congress

When President Trump withdrew deportation protection for people who illegally came to the United States as children, he tasked Congress with crafting an immigration plan to overhaul the system.

A blueprint deal he reached with Democrats emphasized protecting the so-called Dreamers while beefing up border security to prevent others from entering the country illegally. Over the weekend, the White House unveiled much tougher terms, including funding for a border wall and new limits on legal immigration.

Because of the deep divides over immigration, passage of reform will be difficult.

But since the issue has been kicking around Congress for years, there are already several bills that could provide a foundation or pieces for an immigration package.

The Democratic Party has thrown its support behind the Dream Act, a longstanding bill that would offer Dreamers a path to citizenship if they continue to participate in the higher education system, the military or the workforce. Democratic leaders have offered pairing the Dream Act with border security measures to reach a compromise with Trump and Republicans.

The act would grant conditional permanent resident status to people who were younger than 18 when they came to the United States, have been in the country for at least four years, have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses and have fulfilled certain education requirements. This status would be valid for eight years.

They could eventually apply for lawful permanent resident status — and citizenship — if they had received a degree from a college or university or had completed two years of a program, had served in the uniformed services for two years or had been employed for a total of three years.

The act also includes provisions that would prohibit the government from using information from DACA applications for immigration enforcement and encourages states to offer higher education benefits to students in the country illegally.

By Lauren Rosenblatt for THE BALTIMORE SUN
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