WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday presented a bill that would provide legal access to citizenship for thousands of immigrants shielded under assorted protection programs, including the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to this country as children.
The initiative would affect the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program.
“It’s a big priority for our caucus,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard – one of the sponsors of the bill – said. “There is a lot of support for the Dreamers from both sides of the aisle.”
She added at a press conference that the bill was one of 10 priorities of the new Democratic majority in the House, noting that the legislation authorizes a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
Among other questions, the law, known as H.R. 6, or the Dream and Promise Act, opens the door to “certain” young people who have been protected under DACA and who were deported from the US by the Donald Trump administration.
Kicking off the press conference was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the head of the Democratic majority, who said that she was “very proud” to present the bill as one of her party’s legislative priorities.
Noting the importance of granting citizenship to immigrants who have lived in the US for a long time and “who are American in every way,” Pelosi said that “There should be nothing partisan or political in this legislation.”
The bill, which will certainly be approved in the House, must also be approved in the Senate, where the Republicans are in the majority, to be able to be forwarded to Trump, who then must decide whether or not to sign it.
The Senate, with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, is less supportive of the bill, although some conservative lawmakers could view it favorably, according to local media reports.
Since he took office, Trump has tried to suspend DACA and he cancelled TPS for countries like Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, forcing citizens of those nations living in the US to choose among other avenues to legalize their status, continue to live here without documentation or return to their countries.
DACA protects its beneficiaries from deportation and in certain cases authorizes them to obtain temporary work and driver’s licenses, benefits that they must renew every two years.
TPS was created in 1990 and grants extraordinary permission to live and work in the US to nationals of countries affected by armed conflicts or natural disasters.
The DED is similar to TPS and allows people who, if they were to be returned to their home countries, could be endangered due to an unstable political situation or natural disasters to delay deportation.