On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the House of Representatives voted 228 to 197 for HR 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. The legislation is actually two immigration-related bills, with one dealing with young people seeking citizenship and a second bill dealing with farmworkers provisions. The legislation’s main feature is to allow certain young people and young professionals a path toward citizenship if they meet age work and education requirements. If enacted, it would replace the temporary “DACA” program.
“Dreamers” legislation would replace the DACA program that was created by President Obama when Congress failed to pass an earlier “DREAMERS” bill. The legislation has had long-time bipartisan support stretching over more than a decade. Key provisions of both DACA and the Dreamers legislation are that the young people covered must be able to prove they have been living continuously in the U.S, have been brought here by their parents before a certain age, and they must meet conditions around education and employment or military service. The Trump Administration tried to rescind the Obama-era program in 2017, and after a series of court challenges in June 2020, the Supreme Court rejected the attempt to end the DACA program.
The House action envisions the possibility of passing a stand-alone DREAMERS Act. For all these years, despite past bipartisan support, some have blocked its passage on the belief that it should only be enacted as part of a larger immigration reform package. It does not appear to be the case that enough senators are willing to let it pass after the House acts, and some senators have been highlighting the immigration issue and border crossings as an attack line on the new Biden Administration.
The second bill is the Farm Work Force Modernization Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and eases the process of hiring employees through the H-2A visa system. Both bills passed the House last session.