House Republicans Introduce Bill to Provide Legal Status to Undocumented Children and Young Adults

Mar 10, 2017 Issues: Immigration

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) cosponsored legislation introduced by Rep. Carlos Curlbelo (R-Fl), the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, which would provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The bill provides immigrants that have been vetted by The Department of Homeland Security with three pathways toward legal status: higher education, service in the armed forces, or work authorization. Following a 5-year conditional status, these immigrants would be able to reapply for a 5-year permanent status.

Additional original co-sponsors of the RAC Act are Representatives Mike Coffman (CO-6), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Mark Amodei (NV-2), Jenniffer González Colón (PR), David G. Valadao (CA-21), and Fred Upton (MI-6).

"Children who came to the U.S. by no fault of their own and grew up in our country should be permitted to pursue the American dream," Reichert said. "These individuals are our children's classmates, our neighbors, our friends, and our loved ones. They have sacrificed through military service, earned degrees to become doctors and teachers, and have contributed to our communities in immeasurable ways. I am proud to support a bill that recognizes what these individuals have given back to our great country."

“Over the years many immigrant children have arrived in our country – brought by their parents who either illegally crossed one of our borders or overstayed their visas,” Curbelo said. “For most of these young people, the United States is the only country they have ever called home. They attended school with our own children, graduated high school and today they are seeking to serve in our military, pursue a college degree or certificate and contribute to our economy by working.

“These are America’s children, and that is why I’m proud to lead this group of representatives from all over the country to introduce legislation to simply recognize them as such and provide them an earned path to legal status,” added Curbelo. “I hope Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate can get behind this legislation and that it can soon be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.”

“It’s so important to recognize that young people who were brought here as children, who grew up here, went to school here, and who often know of no other country, be allowed to legally remain in the United States,” Coffman said. “Let’s give them a chance to achieve the American Dream through work, education, or military service, and to help us together build a stronger America.”  

“We have many undocumented young adults in America who were brought here through no fault of their own and know no other country to call home,” said Denham. “If these young men and women are willing to serve in the military, pursue a degree or contribute to the economy, then I believe they should have the opportunity to do so.”

“This bill recognizes those who were brought here at a young age by their parents and are living in the shadows,” Diaz-Balart said. “I am proud to support legislation that will allow hardworking and selfless individuals who want to pursue higher education, serve in our military, and become part of America’s work force to do just that.”

“I’m proud to be joining Carlos on this endeavor that will bring us closer to ensuring that our Dreamers, who were brought to our nation through no fault of their own, and who are also the future of our great nation, can continue to positively contribute to our society,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “Throughout my years in Congress, I have been a staunch advocate to protect these young men and women because they are the lifeblood of many communities and are as American as anyone else. We should nurture their talents so our country can grow and be strengthened by their inclusion.”

“I’m sick of defending nothing as it pertains to congressional action on immigration,” Amodei said. “I’d rather be criticized for attempting to move an issue toward solution than criticized for repeated inaction. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction and I’m pleased to team up with Congressman Curbelo and my colleagues in the House to reform our broken immigration system.”

“I’m happy to support this legislation that does justice to thousands of qualified and vetted undocumented immigrants who entered our nation as children through no fault of their own,” said González Colón.

“There is no doubt our immigration system is in desperate need of repair. And while it is important we reform our process and secure our borders, it is also critical that we treat those who came here through no fault of their own with compassion,” Valadao said. “This bill will provide legal status to those young people who choose to contribute to our society by pursing an education or serving in the armed forces, allowing them to stay in the United States, the only home they know.”

“For these young people, the United States is their home. They’ve been raised in our neighborhoods, attended our schools, and worked in our communities,” said Upton. “This legislation simply gives these kids, who have been carefully vetted by the Department of Homeland Security, the chance to earn legal status by pursuing higher education, serving in our armed forces, or entering the workforce. I’ve long-been supportive of common-sense, bipartisan reforms to our broken immigration system and hope to see this piece of legislation advance quickly.”