House Passes Immigration Bill Creating a Pathway Toward Citizenship for Dreamers

Undocumented immigrants in the U

Dream and Promise Act

Photo: Twitter/@NILC National Immigration Law Center

Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. may have a chance at citizenship with a new bill the House passed on Thursday. The American Dream and Promise Act would allow Dreamers a chance toward citizenship as there is currently no process available to them. It would grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if people meet certain requirements including being physically present in the U.S. on or before Jan. 1, 2021, being 18 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S. and not having been convicted of crimes.

“Millions in this country live in fear, holding their breaths every day, that they could be deported to faraway lands that are not their homes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday. “Because America is their home. For Dreamers, it has been their home since their earliest days. And today, this House is going to take action – as we did last Congress – to help them breathe easier.”

The American Dream and Promise Act passed 228-197 and it will now head to the Senate. To pass the bill, all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote for the legislation to avoid a filibuster. The legislation would aid about 4.4 million individuals eligible for permanent residence, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Representatives also voted 247-174 on H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which would grant legal status for undocumented farmworkers, their spouses, and children as long as they have continued employment in the field. Both passed in 2019 with some Republican support but there are concerns they’ll encounter blocks in a divided Senate.

The draft plan for the immigration bill creates the “Dignity Program,” which establishes a path for undocumented immigrants who pass a criminal background check, remain employed and pay income taxes to receive renewable five-year visas to maintain legal status. After completing the Dignity Program, participants have the option to participate in the “Redemption Program” to earn eventual permanent resident status. However,  advocacy groups including Mijente, have asked for the removal of provisions that would bar young immigrants who have been criminalized from becoming citizens.

“We’re not going to accept criminalization narratives. We’re not going to allow some people to be considered disposable and we’re not going to allow a system that’s going to punish people not only once but twice for mistakes that they may have made and for contact they might have with a racist police system,” Jacinta González, the senior campaign organizer for the advocacy group Mijente said during a Youtube Live chat on the act.

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DACA dreamers immigration policy immigration reform undocumented undocumented immigrant rights undocumented immigrants
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