A Pathway to Citizenship
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The undocumented population has been fighting for citizenship since the American Revolution, and by keeping DACA exactly the way it is only stalls the progression of the country. In order to move forward in equality and treatment of immigrants, citizenship eligibility should be on the table. The Dreamer’s Group at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, proposes a pathway to citizenship within DACA but over the period of eight years, minimum. The steps to the new policy proposal are as follows:
- Individuals need to be eligible, apply, and be accepted for DACA and hold this temporary work permit for a period of two years. They would go through the same process that is already in place to obtain this permit. (qualification requirements for DACA can be seen here: https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/s1-exercising-prosecutorial-discretion-individuals-who-came-to-us-as-children.pdf)
- Upon the individuals eighteenth birthday they could then apply for a six year conditional permit to start the pathway to citizenship. Or if they received the permit after their eighteen birthday they would have to hold DACA for two years and then they would be eligible to apply.
- Qualifications for this conditional period are outlined in the DREAM Act, which are as follows:
- be undocumented
- prove they have entered the United States before the age of 18
- prove they have been in the country for at least four years starting the date this legislation would be passed
- prove they have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent and are currently enrolled or admitted to a college, university, vocational program, or armed services
- prove they have not committed any criminal offenses during their time in the United States
- pass a medical exam and background check
- After they meet these requirements they would then apply and receive a six year conditional permit where they would be allowed to finish school or the armed forces and obtain employment.
- After the six years are concluded they would then apply for permanent citizenship status where they would need to prove they completed a four year degree, trade school, or equivalent time in the armed forces, prove they still have not committed any crimes, and pass a medical and background check.
- After a minimum of eight years of conditional time (2 years of DACA, 6 years conditional), they would then be granted full citizenship status.
By doing this the government would not be flooded with new immigrants at one time because it would take eight years or more for individuals to complete the full program. Those that enter the country after this new policy would be enacted and are eligible for DACA would have to go through the same long process at the original holders of DACA. This would spread out the citizenship status’ by years since each person would be on a different time line because they all applied at different times. The largest wave having to go through would be the initial one and that is assuming every person who starts the program would finish or be eligible. Individuals would also not be forced to complete the entire program, instead if they wish to keep renewing their original DACA permit every two years they would be allowed to; however, once they begin the six year conditional time period they must apply for full citizenship status.
By granting a pathway to citizenship within DACA the United States would still be progressing as a country by being more inclusive to those who are already contributing to our society. However, with the political attitudes of government and society being against citizenship for undocumented immigrants, passing legislation will be difficult. However, this new policy the Dreamer’s Group has created has the foundation needed to build a solution for immigration reform in the United States.
(Photo credit: Dave Granlund)
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