House of Representatives Passes The American Dream and Promise Act


With President Biden’s term entering its third month, on Thursday March 18th, the Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed through the H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, which was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California.  The final vote was 228-197, with the majority of Democrats voting for the bill and Republicans voting against.  This is only the first step towards the passing of the reform bill as it will need to gain votes in the Senate, which is more evenly divided with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats sharing the floor.

The legislation allows for undocumented immigrants to gain lawful permanent resident status in the United States through one of three ways:  employment authorization for at least 3 years during which they managed to stay employed over 75% of the time, two years of military service, or by completing courses in a college or university leading to attaining a degree.  These undocumented immigrants, often described as “Dreamers,” would now have a clear, legal pathway to obtaining permanent residence and citizenship in the United States, including protections and a way of obtaining citizenship for individuals who were eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on or before Sept. 17, 2017, as well as individuals who had Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status as of Jan. 20, 2021. This includes any undocumented immigrant who has had either status in the prior three years.  The mechanics of the bill would be to grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if people meet certain requirements, including being younger than 18 upon entry into the US, being physically present in the U.S. on or before Jan. 1, 2021, not having been convicted of crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, or human trafficking.

The plight of the “Dreamers” is a cornerstone of President Biden’s immigration policy and a part of his reform bill.  The effect of the bill will allow up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to permanent residency, legal status and citizenship. However, the bill still faces a hurdle in passing the senate which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.  Before the vote, Republican leaders in the House sent a notice across GOP offices two days before the vote voicing strong concerns against the bill.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., explained one of the issues behind Republican opinion against the bill is that the legislation needs to avoid incentivizing the flow of more migrants to the border by adding more border security provisions.  To pass the bill in the Senate, all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote for it. 


The House additionally passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, another immigration reform bill which would permit farm workers, and their spouses and children, to earn legal status through continued employment in the agricultural sector similar to the Dream Act which gives a pathway through education, employment or military service.

Photo by Samad Ismayilov


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