The House just moved to protect 2.5 million immigrants, but the fight is far from over
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act — legislation that would provide Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients with the ability to earn a pathway to citizenship.
This is a big deal. If signed into law, this legislation would provide a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2.5 million Dreamers, TPS and DED holders, including nearly a million people, like DACA recipients, who had their protections and work authorizations stripped away by the Trump administration.
Passing the Dream and Promise Act was common sense, and the right thing to do. The bill’s passage marks only the third time in nearly three decades that either chamber has passed legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.
Any legislation is a compromise — for example, this bill doesn’t fix the legal immigration system or provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in this country for decades in some cases. But it’s a critical step forward, and I thank the members who did what’s right by passing this bill and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her unwavering commitment to Dreamers. I also want to thank the Dreamers and TPS holders for sharing their stories showcasing the need for this legislation and the impact it could have on our communities. Their courage and passion is the reason this legislation garnered such strong, bipartisan support.
The Trump administration has repeatedly taken actions on immigration that are both bad policy and bad politics — horrible for families and the economy, while also being politically unpopular. Be it a ramp-up in deportations, the “zero tolerance” policy of family separation or attempting to cut legal immigration in half, the administration’s efforts continue to be met with fierce opposition with the American public. And their efforts fly in the face of widespread public support for Dreamers. Recent polling from last week shows that granting citizenship to Dreamers remains incredibly popular, yet the administration’s assault continues.
The Trump administration has taken a particular interest in attempting to strip protections from Dreamers since it formally ended the DACA program in September 2017, and while a series of legal actions has temporarily preserved deportation protections, Dreamers have been forced to live court case to court case — in uncertainty and fear — for nearly two years now. DACA recipients and TPS holders are not safe until permanent protections for them are made law.
The House has acted to prevent further harm, and we now turn to the Senate to follow suit. An overwhelming majority of voters will be with them when they do. Americans have consistently rejected these harsh anti-immigrant and anti-American policies, which we see in the constant public support for immigration. It’s no secret that the president tried to make the 2018 midterm elections a referendum on immigration, falsely portraying thousands of vulnerable individuals fleeing extreme poverty and violence in their home countries as a threat to the U.S. — and Democrats took back the House for the first time in nine years largely because of it.
The Dream and Promise Act’s passage represents meaningful progress in its own right, and now puts the onus on senators to act to protect these incredible young people, too. And, importantly, this sets the stage for additional work to fix our broken immigration system, for which our country and our economy is long overdue.
The Dream and Promise Act is good policy and good politics. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both chambers have introduced or passed legislation to keep families together and boost the American economy by keeping hundreds of thousands of individuals in the workforce, instead of needlessly pushing them out of their jobs and communities. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have repeatedly and consistently spoken of how Dreamers, TPS holders and DED recipients should be able to continue contributing to our communities and economy. We now need the Senate to pass protections without delay, allowing these communities to contribute fully to the country they love and know to be their home by providing an earned pathway to citizenship.
The threat facing Dreamers and TPS holders is an entirely avoidable crisis, and the stakes are too high for Congress to keep delaying. Millions of Americans voted against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric in 2018. The 2020 elections are upon us, and Americans will have another chance to reject the elected representatives who fail to stand with their values on immigration.
Yesterday was tremendous progress, and the way ahead for members of Congress is clear: passing protections for Dreamers, TPS holders and DED holders without delay does right by millions of hardworking individuals and their families, and carves out the path ahead for more meaningful, necessary reforms in the near future.
Todd Schulte is president of FWD.us, a political and tech advocacy group focused on immigration and criminal justice. Previously he served as chief of staff at Priorities USA Action. Follow him on Twitter @TheToddSchulte
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