Tuesday, June 4, 2019
House Passes Bill to Grant Pathway to Citizenship for DREAMers and TPS, Uncertain that Senate Will Vote
On Tuesday, June 4, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants. Two significant groups would be helped: DREAMers and TPS.
The bill would grant DREAMers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years. In other words, it would give DREAMers a path to citizenship.
The bill would also offer protections to people with temporary protected status from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Liberians who have been granted “deferred enforced departure.” Both of these groups could immediately apply for green cards if they have been in the country for at least three years, had their status as of September 2016 and passed background checks. Five years after obtaining a green card, members of both groups could apply for citizenship.
The bill passed 237 to 187, with seven Republicans voting yes. It is unlikely to become a law. The next step is for the Senate to vote on the legislation, but it is unclear if the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring up the legislation for a vote. Earlier in the week, the White House said that Mr. Trump would veto the measure if it passed. His actions had rescinded protections previously granted to both groups.
Whether or not it passes, the immigration measure is notable as a measure of the shifting tide sof politics. It would be a grant of legal status for a narrow group of immigrants, one that goes beyond DREAMers to include TPS but that still falls significantly short of being a comprehensive reform of immigration law of the type the Senate passed in 2013. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats wanted the narrower measure to become law, but she conceded that it was drafted as a statement of principle and a “bridge to understanding why we need comprehensive immigration reform for an immigration system that embraces the contributions of our newcomers.” Full reports appear in the Washington Post and the NY Times.
UPDATE: The bill comes one day after the Supreme Court declined a Department of Justice request to expedite consideration of a case concerning the Trump administration's decision to rescind DACA, as reported in an earlier ImmigrationProf blog post. The justices could announce by the end of the term that they will take up one of the pending cases for next term.