The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than one million undocumented immigrants, a move that comes amid a fierce debate over illegal immigration.
It passed 237-187. The chamber erupted in cheers of, “Sí se puede,” translated to, “Yes, we can.”
While Democrats secured the bill’s passage in the House, the measure is unlikely to become law anytime soon, particularly ahead of a presidential election. Even if it were to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it’d still need to be signed by President Donald Trump who’s sought to end these programs.
The vote comes nearly a month after the President introduced a plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner worked on the proposal for months, but notably missing from it was a solution for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is included in the Democrats’ legislation.
Tuesday’s passage is a success for Democrats, particularly after a federal judge in Washington a day earlier denied a request by House Democrats to block Trump from transferring funds from appropriated accounts to construct his wall. The bill would also provide a greater sense of security to a large swath of undocumented immigrants whose fate has been tied up in the courts.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined for now a Department of Justice request to consider by the end of the month whether to take up a case concerning the Trump administration’s decision to phase out DACA. While the order was a setback for the Trump administration, it does not prevent the possibility that the justices could announce by the end of the term that they will take up one of the pending cases for next term.
Monday’s order means it’s unlikely, although still possible, that the court will take up the issue before all of the lower courts have ruled. So far, the justices have not acted upon the administration’s earlier requests to take up the issue.
During a news conference Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by House Democrats, claimed the bill shouldn’t fall on partisan lines, as it’s likely to do. “There should be nothing partisan or political about this legislation,” Pelosi said.
“(Democrats) had a chance to show they are serious about an immigration solution for DACA recipients,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement, “and perhaps even for the DREAMers they have talked about ‘protecting’ for years. Instead, today we are considering a political messaging bill.”
The measure, dubbed the “Dream and Promise Act of 2019,” was introduced in March. It addresses beneficiaries of the DACA program and two other programs,Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, that offer temporary relief.
It provides some reprieve to so-called Dreamers by allowing those who qualify to gain lawful permanent resident status, which is usually out of the question for many undocumented immigrants who came to the US as minors. To obtain legal status, immigrants must have a qualifying petitioner — for example, a family member or employer — who can sponsor them. Even in that case, however, he or she is already hindered by the fact that they came in illegally.
The bill would grant DACA recipients with conditional permanent resident status for up to 10 years. The criteria is similar to what DACA recipients have to meet, including not having been convicted of a felony.
Similarly, TPS or DED holders would also be given the opportunity to gain lawful permanent resident status as long as they have resided in the US for at least three years and don’t have a felony conviction or more than one misdemeanor conviction.
The measure now heads to the Senate.