On Tuesday, the Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation seeking to provide permanent protections and offer a pathway to citizenship for more than two million immigrants who had their lives “thrown into limbo” by the Trump administration, immigration advocates say.
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which was spearheaded by Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, seeks to provide permanent status not only to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, known as Dreamers, but also to those living in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs.
TPS is a temporary status allowing nationals who are unable to safely return to their home countries due to armed conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions to remain in the U.S. until it is safe to return.
DED does not extend a specific immigration status to beneficiaries, but it currently allows some 4,000 Liberian nationals displaced by conflict and the Ebola crisis to live in the U.S. without fear of removal, at least until their protections run out.
Under President Donald Trump, both programs face uncertain futures, with the U.S. leader’s administration seeking to end protections for hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries, while also ordering a “wind-down” of the DED program slated to begin as of March 30, 2020.
That is why, immigration advocates say, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, or H.R.6, could not come at a better time, offering a potential pathway to citizenship for as many as 2.5 million Dreamers, TPS holders and DED beneficiaries, according to estimates from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigration Integration.
As many as 2.1 million immigrants “would be eligible under the measures for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children,” CAP said in a press release on Monday. Those numbers would include as many as 673,000 recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration has sought to bring to an end. As many as “460,000 immigrants would be eligible under the measures for TPS and DED recipients,” CAP said.
“Dreamers and TPS or DED holders are immigrants who have lived much of their lives in the United States,” the organization noted. “The average TPS recipient has lived here for 22 years, the vast majority of that time in lawful status, while the average Dreamer potentially eligible for protection under the bill came to the United States at age 8,” CAP said, noting that “given their long-term resident in the United States, many of these immigrants have families here.”
In a separate press release, immigration advocacy group United We Dream called on congress members to pass the American Dream and Promise Act and provide permanent protections for “families and communities” that have “had their lives thrown into limbo due to the cruel actions of the Trump administration.”
“The Dream and Promise Act recognizes the urgent need to provide permanent protections without using this group as bargaining chips to grow the Deportation Force,” United We Dream said.
The organization said its members would be gathering on Capitol Hill to support the legislation, along with immigrant youth, TPS and DED recipients who would benefit from its protections.
“While on Capitol Hill, they will remind the new Democratic majority to reject any anti-immigrant additions to the bill that would racially profile and criminalize immigrants and people of color or continue to build up the Deportation Force,” United We Dream said.
In addition to providing protections and a pathway to citizenship for millions of people, H.R.6 also seeks to repeal a restriction that bars states from providing higher education benefits to undocumented immigrants unless those benefits are available to all U.S. citizens.
The bill is expected to pass the Democratic-led House, but is likely to face difficulties in the Republican-controlled Senate, which rejected similar immigration proposals last year.