Nevada Current: House passes bill to offer Dreamers path to citizenship

Jun 5, 2019
In The News

The U.S. House on Tuesday passed a bill that aims to give up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The legislation — a top priority for House Democrats — would offer protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and others who are currently without permanent legal status.

H.R. 6, called the “American Dream and Promise Act,” passed on largely partisan lines by a vote of 237-187. Seven Republicans broke ranks to side with Democrats to support the bill. Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei was not one of them — he voted no.

The vote comes after the Trump administration announced plans to end an Obama administration program to protect young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.

The House legislation would also offer a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with temporary protections, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

“Over the last two years, the Trump Administration has attacked Dreamers and TPS holders by rolling back immigration protections and tearing families apart,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in a floor speech ahead of the House vote.

“That has got to stop. By passing the Dream and Promise Act, this House is going to be standing up to the hateful, anti-immigration policies that have come to define the Trump Administration. The symbol of the United States must always remain the Statue of Liberty,” Titus said.

“Protecting Dreamers and TPS and DED Americans is about honoring the respect for family that is at the heart of our faith and who we are as Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference ahead of the vote. “There should be nothing partisan or political about this legislation.”

Nevada is home to 40,300 immigrants who are eligible for protection under the Dream and Promise Act, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. Those eligible immigrants and their households contribute $234,500,000 in federal taxes and $102,700,000 in state and local taxes each year, according to CAP, and their households generate nearly $1.2 billion each year in spending power.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, accused the Trump administration of putting immigrants’ “lives in limbo” and called the bill’s passage “a historic moment for the nation and for each of the 2.5 million individuals who have built their lives here and deserve a long-term legislative solution.”

In previous years, legislative efforts to grant protections to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors have been bipartisan. But this effort appears unlikely to gain support in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, given the partisanship that currently defines the immigration debate.

Many House Republicans warned that Democrats were wasting their time on legislation that’s dead on arrival in the Senate, while others warned that it encourages immigrants to break the law.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) portrayed the measure as “an amnesty bill to reward and incentivize the lawlessness besieging our country.