House Democrats Renew Effort to Protect Dreamers
Published: March 13, 2019

House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled the latest version of the Dream Act, an effort to provide permanent legal protections and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to this country illegally as children.

Introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) combines protections for the so-called Dreamers with a proposal to allow some immigrants with temporary humanitarian protections to apply for permanent legal status. 

“This important legislation would lift the cloud of fear and uncertainty hanging over hundreds of thousands of the bright and talented young individuals known as Dreamers and allow them to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and a pathway to citizenship in the only country they have ever known,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell in a statement yesterday. “We urge the House to act quickly to pass this legislation, and call on the Senate to promptly take it up as well. The time to act is not just now, it’s long past due.”

The bill would give Dreamers access to in-state tuition and federal student financial aid and also permit eligible individuals deported by the Trump administration to apply for relief. It would benefit millions of Dreamers, including over 700,000 who have been shielded from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

President Trump attempted to rescind DACA in September 2017 but was blocked by a federal appeals court. Separately, Texas and eight other states filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to end the program. The president also tried to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti but was again blocked by federal court.

A version of the Dream Act has been introduced in virtually every Congress since 2001, oftentimes with bipartisan support. It is not clear whether any Republicans will co-sponsor this latest measure: While the 2017 Dream Act was bipartisan, two of the six GOP co-sponsors of that bill have retired and the other four lost their re-election bids last November. Currently there are 202 sponsors for the Dream and Promise Act, all Democrats.