Bill to Provide Temporary Relief to DACA Students

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced bipartisan legislation last week to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children should the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued under the Trump administration.

The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, first introduced in the Senate late last year, would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth. More specifically, the measure would provide "provisional protected presence" and employment authorization to DACA-eligible individuals for three years after the date of enactment of the legislation. The temporary protection seeks to ensure that these young people can continue to work and study and be protected from deportation while Congress debates broader legislation to "fix our broken immigration system," according to a BRIDGE Act fact sheet.

A current DACA recipient would receive provisional protected presence until the expiration date of his or her DACA status and could apply for provisional protected presence prior to that expiration. An individual who is not a DACA recipient but who is eligible for DACA could also apply for provisional protected presence. Applicants would be required to pay a reasonable fee, undergo criminal background checks, and meet a number of eligibility criteria indicating that they came to the United States as minors, grew up in this country, have pursued an education, have not committed any serious crimes, and do not pose a threat to our country.

AACRAO joined a broad coalition of higher education groups in support of the proposed legislation. "The bill would extend fundamental fairness to [DACA] students, permitting them to continue studying or working and establish a firm statutory basis for the program while Congress debates legislation addressing a permanent solution," the groups said in a letter to Sens. Graham and Durbin.

U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman (CO-06) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04) plan to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.


Related Links

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's Press Release

Coalition Letter in Support of the BRIDGE Act