WASHINGTON – The House on Thursday passed a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, with bipartisan support, but it will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate.
The American Dream and Promise Act passed 228-197. It’s unclear whether there is enough support to pass the legislation in the evenly divided Senate. To pass the bill in the split chamber, all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote for the legislation to avoid a filibuster.
Under the legislation, about 2.5 million “Dreamers” would qualify for the pathway. Currently, no process to citizenship for “Dreamers” exists. It would grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if people meet certain requirements. Those requirements include 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 such as domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking.
The House passed the legislation in 2019, when seven Republicans voted with Democrats to support the bill. However, it wasn’t brought up in the GOP-led Senate at the time.
This time around, nine Republicans voted for the bill. President Joe Biden, whose administration endorsed the bill earlier Thursday, urged all members of the House to vote for the legislation in a tweet ahead of the vote.
Under the legislation, “Dreamers” could gain full lawful permanent resident status by either acquiring a degree from a university or college, completing at least two years of military service or being employed for at least three years where they had employment authorization for 75% of the time they were employed.
The bill includes protections and a pathway to citizenship for individuals who were eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on or before Sept. 17, 2017, and individuals who had Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status as of Jan. 20, 2021. Individuals who are beneficiaries of either of those programs and have been in the U.S. for three years before the act’s enactment are eligible for the protections and pathway to citizenship.
Before the vote, Republican leaders in the House urged their GOP colleagues to vote against the legislation, according to a notice sent to GOP offices on Tuesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday he believes the legislation needs to have more border security provisions to avoid incentivizing the flow of more migrants to the border.
“They’re not going to get all they want. We won’t get all of what we want for DREAM,” Graham said. “But the acute problem at the border has to be addressed in anything you do, and we’ll see where the Left is at. I mean, the right has always been the problem on immigration, up until now.”
The legislation’s passage comes as approval of President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration reform bill remains unclear.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Thursday ahead of the House vote that the American Dream and Promise Act, along with a vote for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, are “drivers of the conversation” for comprehensive immigration reform.
On passing of the Dream and Promise Act in the Senate, Menendez said “I think that our goal is not about whether we pass these bills or something else.”
“Our goal, [is] to see if we can come together with a series of Republicans to see how far we can go, which I would assume to be inclusive of those bills,” he said.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_