The US House of Representatives passed two separate immigration bills on March 19 that will provide a path towards citizenship of unlawful immigrants brought to the US as children—known as DREAMers—farm workers and individuals with temporarily protected legal status. It is estimated that these bills will make 4.4 million undocumented immigrants eligible for permanent residence and citizenship. However, both bills have yet to be taken to the Senate, where they would need 60 of 100 votes for approval. The present article centers on two questions: When will the bills be taken to the Senate? What are the possible outcomes of voting in the Senate?
Immigration Bills 2021
The first bill called the American Dream and Promise act 2021, backed by nine Republicans, was passed by the lower house by 228/197. The second immigration bill, otherwise known as Farm Workforce Modernization Act, got approved by the House of Representatives with 247/174 votes—thirty from the republicans. Dream Act is a bipartisan effort to immigration reforms.
The DREAMers bill defines the pathway to permanent residence and citizenship for about 2.5 million DREAMers. The farmers’ act addresses the legal status of unlawfully brought farm-workers. It will provide temporary status to about 325,000 farm-workers with a possibility to become permanent residents.
Both immigration bills advance Joe Biden’s immigration agenda, which strives to bring humanity and American values to the immigration process. A recent surge in unaccompanied migrant minors at the southern US border has highlighted the need for immediate immigration reforms.
Will the Bills pass the Senate?
Bills’ prospects in the Senate are yet uncertain. Democrats have an extremely narrow majority with 50 seats, and most legislations require 60 votes to advance. The bills would need support from ten Republicans to succeed.
Comprehensive immigration reform backed by Biden—being a bigger bill—is unlikely to attract Republican votes necessary to proceed in the Senate. However, two standalone bills probably have a better chance to get 60 votes.
However, due to the recent emergency at the southern US borders, Republicans might not be willing to back the two immigration bills. Republicans would only consider such legislation measures with stricter border controls.
Both bills previously passed the lower house in 2019 with fewer Republican votes, but the Republican-led Senate had refused to take them. All six Republicans who had backed the bills in 2019 voted for the bills again. However, Republicans are usually reluctant to back any legislation related to the legalization of undocumented immigrants.
The Senate will return from recess later this month, and the immigration bills will be among several areas of focus. However, a slight delay is expected as Congress works to craft and then pass Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.
The bill will begin moving through the committee process in the House in April and May. The Illinois Democrat, Dick Durbin, however, thinks that he is close to having 60 votes in the Senate. Senator Joe Manchin has also signaled support to immigration bills.