House Democrats are taking another stab at legislation protecting young, undocumented immigrants while at the same time expanding those protections to immigrants covered by other programs.
The legislation would provide conditional permanent resident status to undocumented immigrants who were 17 or younger when they came to the U.S. and who meet certain educational, security, and length-of-stay criteria. Full-fledged lawful status could be gained through education, military service, or work experience.
The bill is similar to the Dream Act, legislation that has been repeatedly introduced since 2001 but never passed by Congress. H.R. 6 expands on that bill by also providing lawful status to immigrants covered by temporary protected status and deferred enforced departure, immigration programs for foreign nationals whose home countries are unsafe because of an armed conflict or natural disaster.
‘Clean Dream Act?’
Democrats repeatedly have called for a “clean Dream Act” without any riders that would give legal status to young, undocumented immigrants.
But such a bill isn’t likely to gain Republican support in either the House or the Senate.
House Republicans called for strong border security and interior enforcement provisions during a March 6 Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue. Without these additions, legalization only will lead to further illegal immigration in the future, they said.
Democrats insisted that the contributions of dreamers, TPS holders, and DED-covered immigrants make a standalone bill a win-win for immigrants and the U.S.
Reigniting Old Debate
The legislation promises to reignite an immigration debate in Congress that started more than a year ago when the Trump administration announced its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March 2018. DACA provides deportation protection and work permits to young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Over the course of a few days in February 2018, the Senate voted on a series of measures that would provide legal status to DACA recipients, including a measure backed by President
Later that year, the House made a go at its own version of the bill after a petition to force consideration of the Dream Act came within a few signatures of requiring the vote. That attempt also failed.
DACA has remained in effect under court order since early 2018. The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue, but the justices have yet to decide whether they will do so.
A federal judge also blocked the administration from ending TPS for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Lawsuits to block the end of TPS for Honduras and Nepal, as well as to block the end of DED for Liberians, are pending in federal district court.