House Judiciary Committee Marks Up Dream Act, TPS Bills
May 22, 2019

Note: The Judiciary ommittee​ approved all three bills on a party-line vote Thursday evening.

The House Committee on the Judiciary today marked up legislation to provide permanent legal protections and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, along with bills addressing the Trump administration’s rollback of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from countries affected by war and natural disasters.

In a trio of actions, the committee considered the Dream Act of 2019 (H.R. 2820), the American Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 2821), and the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 (H.R. 549), as well as amendments to those bills. The markups were expected to go well into the evening, with votes possibly not until Thursday. All three are expected to pass. ACE sent a letter​ to the committee May 21 noting our support of both the Dream Act and American Promise Act. 

The legislation as written would allow Dreamers to be eligible for Title IV federal student aid programs and permit certain individuals deported by the Trump administration to apply for relief.  It would potentially 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. A series of subsequent court decisions also have blocked the move. In the latest ruling just last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the DACA rescission was “arbitrary and capricious” under federal law in part because the Department of Homeland Security “failed to give a reasoned explanation” for the change in policy.

In an op-ed May 21 for Fox News​, ACE President Ted Mitchell criticized the time it is taking to find a solution for Dreamers, who have strong support in Congress and throughout the country.

“This delay in providing a solution is particularly frustrating because it should not be this hard. In a hopelessly divided country, there is rare bipartisan and widespread support across the country for extending permanent legal protections and a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers,” he wrote. “A Fox News poll, conducted shortly after the president announced the DACA rescission, found 86 percent of registered voters were in favor of granting work permits and U.S. citizenship to illegal immigrants under the age of 30 brought here as children. A Gallup survey last year found that 83 percent of Americans, including 75 percent of Republicans, favor or strongly favor a proposal to allow Dreamers the chance to become U.S. citizens. And newspaper editorial boards across the ideological spectrum, from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal have advocated for protecting Dreamers.”

The president also tried to end TPS for immigrants from El Salvador, Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti but was again blocked by federal court. The American Promise Act would preserve the TPS program, while the Venezuela TPS Act would permit citizens of that country to qualify for TPS for the first time.

White House unveils immigration proposal with no protection for Dreamers: The House bill is particularly significant in light President Trump’s latest immigration plan unveiled last week.

The central focus of the proposal, spearheaded by the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, is on reducing family-based immigration to the United States in favor of skill-based immigration. It includes six main areas: 1) finishing the border wall; 2) stemming the flow of low-wage labor; 3) attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants; 4) limiting the family members who can come to the country to children and spouses; 5) importing labor for certain critical industries; and 6) limiting the asylum system. 

However, Dreamers are completely missing from the plan, an issue congressional Democrats have said must be addressed if they are to consider supporting it.

Mitchell said in a statement last week that while ACE supports allowing more talented international students, scholars, and other highly skilled individuals coming into the country, “we are particularly disappointed that the administration’s plan does not include protections for Dreamers, a top priority for ACE and all of American higher education.”​