The bills, which are separate from Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan, are expected to have a better chance of passing in Congress.
This week, as the Biden administration struggles to accommodate a surge of migrant children at the border, Democrats on Capitol Hill are advancing on two immigration bills. These are separate from President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan, and would pave the way to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US without legal status.
The American Dream and Promise Act
This bill would create a pathway to legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients, also known as Dreamers, and could grant them:
- Conditional permanent resident status for 10 years, as well as cancel removal proceedings if certain conditions are met. These include being 18 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the US, being in the US physically on or before Jan. 1, 2021, and not having been convicted of crimes such as domestic violence, human trafficking, or sexual assault.
- Full lawful permanent resident status by obtaining a degree from a university or college, completing at least two years of military service, or being employed for at least three years where they had authorization for employment 75% of the time they were employed.
- Protections and a path to citizenship for persons who were eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on or before Sept. 17, 2017, and those who had Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status as of Jan. 20, 2021. Also eligible for the protections and pathway to citizenship are beneficiaries of either of those programs who have been in the US for three years before the act’s enactment.
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The Farm Workforce Modernization Act
This legislation would facilitate a process for persons who have worked at least 180 days in agriculture over the past two years to earn temporary status as Certified Agricultural Workers. Spouses and children could also apply for temporary status.
It would also create a pathway for workers to get a green card by paying a $1,000 fine and engaging in additional agricultural work depending on how long they have worked in agriculture in the US.
Furthermore, the bill would streamline the process to get an H-2A visa, which allows foreign citizens into the country for temporary agricultural work.
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An Uphill Battle
For decades, Congress has tried to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul. In 2013, a comprehensive bill including a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants died in the House.
This time, the bills the House will vote on are separate from Biden’s US Citizenship Act of 2021, a comprehensive immigration plan aiming to create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants. It would also include a shorter pathway for farmworkers and DACA recipients.
But it is expected that with a Senate split 50-50, Biden’s immigration bill will face hurdles in Congress. All Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote in favor of the bill to avoid a filibuster. However, Democrats expect the two standalone bills moving through the House will have a better chance of passing in Congress.