House Bills Would Give Millions a Path to Citizenship

Natural disasters, violent conflicts or epidemics are among the circumstances that prevent TPS and DED recipients from returning safely to their home countries. (Alex/Adobe Stock)

NEW YORK – The Dream Act and American Promise Act, extending permanent protection to millions of immigrants whose legal status is threatened, are on their way to the full U.S. House for a vote. 

The bills, passed by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, would extend permanent protection for young adults known as “Dreamers,” who arrived here as children, and to those who were eligible for Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure as of January 2017. And they would create a path to citizenship for 2.2 million immigrants nationwide, including more than 80,000 in New York. 

Anu Joshi, senior policy director at the New York Immigration Coalition, says the Trump administration’s efforts to end protections for DACA and TPS recipients have thrown their lives into limbo.

“The DREAM and Promise Act would be helping to ensure that they could live full, meaningful, healthy lives without living under the threat of deportation,” says Joshi.

The Trump administration attempted to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and terminate TPS and DED status for most of the people protected, but those efforts have been blocked by the courts.

After passing background checks and other requirements, the bills would allow both DACA and TPS recipients to apply for green cards and eventually, citizenship. Joshi points out that many TPS recipients already have lived in the U.S. for decades.

“There’s about 300,000 current TPS recipients, and they have 275,000 U.S.-citizen children,” says Joshi. “So, we’re not just talking about immigrants. We’re talking about U.S.-citizen kids who stand to benefit from this legislation.”

There are more than 30,000 TPS recipients living in New York.

Joshi is confident the bills will pass in the House, but acknowledges it will be more difficult to get them through the Senate. However, she believes there is hope.

“There has been broad, bipartisan support in the past for the Dream Act, and legislation to protect TPS and DED recipients, and we just have to continue applying pressure,” says Joshi.

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