House of Representatives passes bill creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers

Dreamers have enjoyed protection from deportation and the freedom to study and work under a program started by former President Barack Obama in 2012. (Photo: Politico)

The House on Thursday voted for the first time this year to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, amid a larger debate in Washington over President Joe Biden’s handling of the surge in migrants seeking to cross into the country from Mexico.

The measure, and another bill to provide legal status to undocumented farm workers, were passed by Democrats in the last session of Congress, but stalled in a GOP-controlled Senate. Now, Democrats hope to see a different result with their party in control of the upper chamber – though it is still unclear if the bills can garner the support of the ten Republicans needed to advance.

The American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented migrants known as “Dreamers” and other people living in the country with temporary protected status, passed in a 228-197 vote.

PHOTO: A sign in support of DACA Dreamers lies at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the court declined to hear a Trump administration challenge to California's sanctuary laws, in Washington, June 15, 2020.
Tom Brenner/Reuters, FILETom Brenner/Reuters, FILEA sign in support of DACA Dreamers lies at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the court de…Read More

Nine Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the measure, one more than the number of GOP votes the proposal received in the last session of Congress.

According to its Democratic sponsors, the proposal would impact roughly 3.4 million people.

“These people have lived in silence for far too long,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Thursday.

“For us, this is a day of not only passing legislation, but a cause for celebration,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at an event before the vote.

The House also passed The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which could create a system for more than 1 million undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status and was praised on the floor by Democrats and Republicans who first crafted the bipartisan agreement in 2019.

The bill passed in a 247-174 vote, with 30 Republicans voting with Democrats, and a single Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voting with Republicans against the bill. It faces an uncertain path forward in the Senate.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference on immigration at the U.S. Capitol March 18, 2021.
Win Mcnamee/Getty ImagesWin Mcnamee/Getty ImagesSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference on immigration at the U.S. Capitol…Read More

“There simply isn’t enough interest among domestic workers to get these jobs done,” Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said Thursday, calling the proposal the “targeted” and “bipartisan solution our farmers and ranchers need.”

The majority of Republican used debate time Thursday to criticize the Biden administration’s response to the growing number of migrants trying to enter the United States across the southwestern border.

“It is the Biden border crisis,” GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the floor. “So far, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats aren’t providing any solutions.”

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