Congressional Democrats revive effort to help Dreamers
The proposed bill, H.R.6, would provide a direct path to permanent residence to approximately 3.6 million immigrants brought into the United States as minors, also called DREAMers.
“The American people are overwhelmingly for this legislation,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a press briefing. “We hope that many of our Republican friends will join us.”
President Donald Trump announced in September 2017 that he was planning to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The future of the program remains uncertain. While new applicants can no longer apply, existing recipients are allowed to renew their status as the issue is litigated in the courts.
The ambitious bill also calls for a pathway to permanent residence for recipients of the Temporary Restricted Status (TRS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs. Immigrants under these programs came from countries considered unsafe due to natural disaster, civil war or other factors.
The Trump administration has removed TRS status for several countries, and DED status is set to expire for others, although an injunction is currently in place against those actions. The bill would also cancel any pending removal proceedings for TRS and DED recipients.
The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, Nydia Velázquez, D-New York, and Yvette Clarke, D-New York.
“These young people…are American in every sense but on paper,” Velázquez said in a press conference outside the United States Capitol following the bill’s introduction. “The issue that we are addressing today speaks to who we are as a nation.”
Earlier Tuesday, House Democrats, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Hoyer, announced the bill at a press event.
“We are here to pledge our efforts,” Hoyer said. “I am here as majority leader to pledge that this bill is going to be on the floor.”
Several undocumented immigrants were at the Capitol to witness the bill’s official unveiling.
“The Dream and Promise Act shows us a completely different path forward on immigration,” said Greisa Martinez, deputy executive director of United We Dream, the country’s largest immigrant youth-led organization. “(It’s) one that leads us into a pathway of protection without hurting other immigrants.”
The Democrats took control of the House in January for the first time since 2010. One of the last bills they passed that year was the DREAM Act, which was more limited in scope: it would have provided protection to only about half of undocumented youth, and did not address TRS or DED.
House leaders said the new sweeping bill reinforces Democrats’ commitment to fighting Trump administration policies against immigration and demonstrates a party consensus on the issue.
“I think you’ve seen a party that’s been very unified over the last two-and-a-half months,” Hoyer said. “We are very united when we come to the floor and vote on issues.”
Prospects for the Democrats’ proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate are uncertain at best.