The American Dream and Promise Act, which passed by a vote of 228 to 197, would allow individuals without legal immigration status to apply for conditional lawful permanent residency if they entered the U.S. when they were 18 years of age or younger and meet certain criteria. Media outlets, officeholders, and political candidates often refer to this population as “dreamers.”
All Democrats supported the bill. Nine Republicans voted in favor, but none were from Texas.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides an avenue to legal status for illegal aliens who worked as farmers for at least 180 days over the past two years. Their children and spouses would also be eligible.
Such individuals would be allowed to apply for green cards after paying a $1,000 fine and working on farms for an additional four years if they had been working for more than 10 years, or an additional eight if they had been working for fewer than 10 years.
The immigration bill also requires e-verify in agriculture and makes a number of reforms “to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers,” according to a summary provided by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), one of the bill’s authors.
Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX-11) suggested in a press statement that the chamber had misplaced priorities and should focus on securing the border.
“Speaker Pelosi’s decision to bring two amnesty bills to the floor this week when our border is an absolute disaster-zone is one of the most tone deaf things I’ve seen during my time in Congress,” Pfluger asserted.
“These bills will provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens without addressing the incentives that caused them to illegally enter or be brought into the U.S. by their parents in the first place. This is a humanitarian crisis and a matter of national security. We have to secure our border before we can address the issues with our broken immigration system.”
Pfluger recently appeared with a group of Republicans in the El Paso area and criticized the federal government for relocating hundreds of unaccompanied minors to Midland without notifying local authorities.
In a press release, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7) touted diversity in her own district and expressed her support for the bills.
“The Dream and Promise Act ends the fear and uncertainty for people who know no other country as home. I am glad this legislation passed the House of Representatives today, and I hope the Senate will quickly take up this important bill,” Fletcher said.
The legislation, which would need to receive approval by the U.S. Senate before President Biden may sign it into law, proposes giving lawful permanent residency to “dreamers” for up to 10 years on the condition that an applicant is not a national security risk or has a criminal record that includes felonies or serious misdemeanors.
For the purposes of this proposal, an immigration-related offense is not considered a disqualifying criminal conviction.
Applicants who pose a national security risk, participated in a gang even if it resulted in no criminal convictions, or who otherwise are deemed a public safety risk would be denied.
In order to receive protection from deportation, applicants would need to have been in the U.S. continually since New Year’s Day, pass a background check, graduate high school, and pay application fees. “Dreamers” would be able to acquire green cards after additional life events such as earning a college degree, serving in the military, or being active in the workforce for three years.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security will also have the ability to make exceptions for misdemeanor convictions for “humanitarian reasons or family unity,” according to a summary distributed by congressional Democrats.
The bill would also pave a road to earned legal status for illegal aliens who have been in the country for at least three years and who were eligible for temporary protected status on January 1, 2017, or deferred enforcement departure on January 20 of this year.
In a speech opposing the legislation, Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24) said that President Biden’s “reckless policies are creating a disaster situation for Texans.”
“This is a surge at levels we have never seen before, and it’s a direct reaction to the Biden administration dispensing with numerous measures, which protected our southern border,” Van Duyne said.
The State of Texas has been scrambling to assist overwhelmed U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials as enforcement encounters are on course to surpass a 20-year record, according to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
The Mexican government is also reportedly cooperating with American authorities and taking steps to inhibit the flow of individuals from Central America to the U.S.
The American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act will need at least 60 votes to pass in the U.S. Senate unless Democrats abolish the filibuster.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."