On Tuesday, the majority Democratic House of Representatives passed legislation to open up a pathway to citizenship for roughly 2.5 million immigrants. The bill, H.R.6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, was introduced in March of this year and passed 237 to 187.
If enacted, it would provide conditional permanent residence status to and remove the threat of deportation for two categories of immigrants: young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
The firm has written about the DREAM Act and comparable legislation at length in the past. The criteria attached to gaining permanent residence status and eventual citizenship in the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 are substantively similar to what has been included in previous legislative iterations. To qualify for permanent residency, immigrants must have been younger than 18 years of age when they first came to the U.S., and they must have lived in the U.S. continuously for the past four years. Additionally, they must have an American high school diploma or GED and pass a background check. To be eligible for citizenship, these young immigrants must earn a college degree or complete two years of higher education. Service in the military or three years’ worth of employment in the U.S. would also render them eligible.
However, given the majority-Republican Senate and the veto threat recently issued by the White House, the bill is not likely to pass.
Ultimately the bill serves less as a piece of legislation that will ultimately affect immigration policy in the U.S. in any meaningful way, and more as an opportunity for pro-immigrant politicians to publicly articulate a stance on a hot-button issue, especially with the 2020 presidential election looming.