The US House of Representatives recently passed two bills on March 19 that would determine undocumented immigrants’ fate— DREAMERS, brought to the US as children—farm workers and immigrants with temporarily protected legal status. What are these bills, and how will they affect the legal status of millions of immigrants? We present all information centering on this question in the article.
What are these bills?
Due to the recent surge of unaccompanied migrant minors at the southern US border, emerging crises have highlighted the immediate need for immigration reforms. The Biden administration has therefore come up with the US Citizenship Act of 2021—an agenda that centers on the security and the management of migration across the Hemisphere.
The bills are among the Biden government’s measures to undo Trump’s strict immigration policies and bring humanity and American values to the immigration system.
The first bill, otherwise known as the American Dream and Promise act 2021, presented in the House of Representatives was supported by the Democrats. With the support from nine Republicans, the bill was passed by the lower house by 228/197.
The lower house also passed another bill, otherwise known as Farm Workforce Modernization Act, with 247/174 votes. Again thirty Republicans supported the bill.
What are these bills going to affect?
The first bill would address the legal status of millions of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as minors—otherwise known as “dreamers.” According to the bill, undocumented individuals can apply for temporary legal status and permanent residence after five years.
Dreamers will have to pass criminal and security background checks and pay taxes. Any immigrant who has been a member of a “criminal street gang” will be ineligible to apply. After three years, green card holders can apply for US citizenship by passing additional background checks and demonstrating English and US civics knowledge.
The Dreamers bill would also give green cards to immigrants directly affected by war or natural disasters and living temporarily in the USA under protected status. It could make 4.4 million immigrants eligible for permanent residency in the US.
The farmers’ act addresses the legal status of unlawfully brought farm-workers. It will provide temporary status to farm-workers with a possibility to become permanent residents. The act will also revise the existing H-2A agricultural work visa program. This bill is an attempt to impose mandatory employment verification (E-Verify) in the agriculture industry.
What is next?
Both immigration bills have to go through the Senate. A bill would need 60 of 100 votes for approval. This means that the bill would require the support of at least ten Republicans. Both bills have been previously passed in 2019 but were never taken to the Senate.
Democrats hope that there is a good chance that one of the bills will pass the Senate with proper working and hopeful compromise. In this way, doors to further negotiations down the line for other bills will open. Republicans, on the other hand, emphasize strict border control before any discussions about immigration.