On Tuesday, despite a veto threat from President Trump, House Democrats passed a bill that would provide a route to citizenship for over 2 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were children. The 237-187 vote brought chants of “Yes We Can” and “Si Se Puede” in the chamber. The bill will most likely not succeed in the GOP-led Senate, where other bills on issues like healthcare, climate change, and gun control have fizzled out.
Only seven Republican voted in support of the bill, while all 187 “nay” votes came from Republicans. The bill, entitled the Dream and Promise Act, was written to protect “Dreamers,” such as those protected by Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, from being deported. It will also provide them with a pathway to citizenship, as long as they meet the criteria.
The Dream and Promise Act would offer legal status to approximately 400,000 people who are given Temporary Protected Status, mostly those from Africa, the Middle East, and Central American, which have suffered from civil conflict, wars, and natural disasters.
The bill is being supported by immigration, labor and liberal groups, such as the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Those that support the bill claim that it would promote growth to the economy. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, the chief sponsor of the bill, said: “This is about who we are as Americans, and what is in the best interests of our country.”
In order to qualify for legal residence, Dreamers and other immigrants brought to the U.S. could qualify if the receive college degrees, serve the military, or have worked for at least three years. After another five years, they can apply for citizenship.
Most Republicans believe that the measure lacks provisions for border security. “This bill, to my mind, would ruin America,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. According to a letter the White House wrote to lawmakers, the bill would “would incentivize and reward illegal immigration” without “protecting our communities and defending our borders.”
Republican have pushed to add a provision to prevent suspected gang members from applying for legal residence. Democrats argue that the bill already has provisions for that in place.
According to Politico, Rep. Joe Neguse said: “I would ask my colleagues to spare me this false outrage. At the end of the day, there is no question that no one is interested in allowing gang members to benefit.“
The White House has attempted to eliminate the DACA program but the federal courts have continuously rejected their efforts. The debate over the bill came at the same time a surge of migrants attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. This has caused a significant strain on the government’s ability to detain and process new arrivals in the country.
President Trump has said that he will impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods starting next week if the Mexican government doesn’t do more the stop the flow of drugs and migrants into the United States. President Trump has stated that the tariffs will generate enough revenue to cover the $4.5 billion that he has unsuccessfully asked Congress for.