These Republican Bills Could Save DACA. Well, If Congress Can Agree

0906 DACA_Richard_Durbin
From left: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Richard Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, speaks as Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina, listens during a news conference at the Capitol, on September 5. Durbin and Graham held a news conference to discuss the DREAM Act. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

When the Trump administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Tuesday, the executive branch invited Congress to counter that decision with a six-month deadline. The move gives Republican lawmakers who control Congress the opportunity to establish a permanent plan allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children to remain in the country legally.

Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017

Several legislative proposals to put elements of DACA into law have been introduced in Congress. Due to the quick deadline, bill sponsors have talked about forcing a vote soon. Here are some of the proposed bills that could save DACA:

The 2017 DREAM Act

The 2017 DREAM Act cancels the removal of DACA recipients and offers individuals a road to citizenship. It establishes legal permanent residence for Dreamers and outlines requirements for citizenship in the United States, like passing a background check. Senator Cory Gardner, the Republican from Colorado, said the bill would provide an immediate fix to protect children who came to America without any documentation through no fault of their own. The legislation exists in two versions: a Senate draft introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina, and Richard Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, and a House draft from Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, the Democrat from California. Each bill features co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.


The bipartisan BRIDGE Act would extend DACA for three years, continuing temporary relief from deportation and providing work authorization to young undocumented immigrants. Lawmakers have suggested that rescuing the program short-term will allow them to develop comprehensive immigration reform over the next few years of the Trump presidency. The bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman, the Republican from Colorado, boasts 25 co-sponsors in the House. An identical version in the Senate was introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham and received additional bipartisan support.

The SAFE Act

Legislation from Senator Jeff Flake, the Republican from the Arizona, suggests preserving the current DACA program, while also accelerating the deportation of immigrants convicted of a felony or specific misdemeanor. The bill calls for the "prompt removal" of such illegal immigrants no later than 90 days after detainment. Flake has additionally co-sponsored the DREAM Act of 2017 and BRIDGE Act.

The ball is back in Congress’ court where it belongs, and there are a lot of innocent kids counting on Congress to do its job. 3/5

— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 5, 2017

Recognizing America's Children Act

This House bill preserves DACA while requiring that qualifying individuals have lived in the United States continuously since 2012 without leaving for longer than 90 days. The legislation, introduced by Representative Carlos Curbelo, the Republican from Florida, provides a path to becoming a lawful permanent resident and eventual citizenship. Curbelo called on GOP leaders to bring his bill to the floor, tweeting that it "would not only give peace of mind to hundreds of thousands across the country but also help grow our economy and create new jobs." It has collected 20 Republican co-sponsors within the House.

Congress now faces a quick window to save DACA. Trump has indicated that if lawmakers are unable to reach a consensus, he will "revisit this issue" of comprehensive immigration reform. Legislators have no shortage of tasks in the coming weeks, including funding for Hurricane Harvey, sidestepping a government shutdown and increasing the debt ceiling.