The House approved legislation this week that would provide a path to citizenship to about 2.5 million people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, including 12,000 in Nevada.
The House also approved legislation to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, renewed protections against victims of domestic violence and removed the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Votes in the House came as the Senate approved more of President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominations, including Deb Haaland to be Interior Secretary, Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Isabella Guzman to direct the Small Business Administration (SBA). Haaland is the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, and Becerra is the first Latino to head HHS.
Both Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen voted for all of the nominations.
The House passed the American Dream and Promise Act 228 to 19. All Democrats voted for the measure along with nine Republicans.
The bill would provide a path to citizenship for those brought to the country illegally as minors, typically known as DREAMers, and for those receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as well as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. TPS and DED allow individuals from certain designated countries to stay in the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.
The House also approved legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for farm workers. That bill passed 247 to 174, with 30 GOP members joining all but one Democrat.
The bills are similar to those passed by the House in 2019, and Amodei’s complaints about the Dream Act still apply. Those include that the Dream Act would legalize undocumented people’s status beyond TPS recipients and DREAMers participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work. Amodei questioned whether the measure has enough safeguards to prevent criminals and gang members from obtaining green cards.
Amodei has supported legalization and a path to citizenship for both DREAMers and TPS communities. In 2018, the Republican challenged his leadership as one of 23 GOP House members to sign a “discharge petition” that would have forced votes on immigration reform bills even if Republican leaders didn’t want to bring the measures to the floor. Although the petition fell two Republicans short of triggering the votes, Amodei credited the effort with pressuring GOP leaders to eventually bring two DACA bills up for votes that ultimately failed.
Under the new bill, anyone who has been in the U.S. since January 1 and was 18 years or younger on that date can apply for a 10-year conditional residency. They also must meet various conditions, including that they are not inadmissible for health-related reasons, smuggling or student visa abuse.
They would be able to apply for green cards after they earn a college degree, complete at least two years of postsecondary education, serve in the military for two years or have been employed for at least three years. And as permanent residents, they could then apply for citizenship after five years, like other green card holders.
“We must not continue to allow a broken immigration system to deprive innocent young people of the opportunity to study, work, and live in the only country they’ve ever known,” Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) said of the DREAMers.
At least 12,000 DREAMers live in Nevada, according to the American Immigration Council. As of March 2020, that’s how many Nevadans were participating in the DACA program.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) said that more than 40,000 immigrants in Nevada would be eligible for protections under the bill. That includes DACA, TPS and DED recipients.
“These eligible immigrants and their households contribute $234,500,000 in federal taxes and $102,700,000 in state and local taxes each year,” Titus said in a release.
The bill would allow TPS recipients, eligible for TPS since 2017, and DED recipients, eligible for DED since January, to immediately apply for green cards. After five years as legal permanent residents, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship. TPS and DED recipients would also have to have resided in the U.S. for three years before the bill’s enactment.
Roughly 4,000 TPS recipients live in Nevada. (Venezuelans, including the community in Las Vegas, were recently offered TPS and DED.)
If signed into law, the bill would supplant the DACA program, which was put in place by President Barack Obama. DACA could be changed or rescinded by future presidents, just as
President Donald Trump’s administration tried to. Although the Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the Trump effort was arbitrary and capricious, the court conceded that it is within the president’s authority to repeal to terminate the program, leaving DACA in need of a more lasting legislative solution.
Please read the full article here: Indy DC Download: House approves bill to legalize DREAMers, TPS recipients
This article was produced by Humberto Sánchez for The Nevada Independent on March 21, 2021, and shared with Noticiero Móvil.