The House of Representatives will today cast its first immigration votes of the 117th U.S. Congress. Both the Dream and Promise Act and the the Farm Workforce Modernization Act are expected to pass (as they did in that chamber during the previous Congress), and would put as many as 4 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, and farmworkers on a path to citizenship.
The legislation would provide permanent relief and stability to people like Sarah, a TPS holder from Haiti. That program, much like DACA, was thrown into chaos and turmoil by the previous administration. “We’re students, some of us are young and have lived here most of our lives, others are older and support their family in this country and in Haiti,” she said in an UndocuBlack Network statement received by Daily Kos. “We want to live; we don’t want to just survive. We want a path to citizenship.”
On Wednesday, a massive coalition of more than 150 mayors also issued a call for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Dream and Promise Act, writing in a letter that “[o]ur bipartisan organization has adopted this policy because it is the right thing to do—for Dreamers, for our communities and for our country.”
“The cultural, economic, and social contributions of the 800,000 DACA recipients and their families to their communities cannot be overstated; particularly during a global pandemic where over 200,000 DACA recipients are working in essential roles including 27,000 in health care positions,” the mayors said. “Many Dreamers and TPS and DED holders are essential workers, working on the frontline to fight the Covid pandemic and helping to save lives. The time for Congress to act is now.”
DACA recipient Javier has been caring for COVID-19 patients as a registered nurse in Texas. “My unit became so full of COVID patients that we didn’t have any more beds,” he said in a video released by immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us. In that video, he reveals that he, his wife, and their 1-year-old baby all contracted the virus. “As soon as we felt good, we went back to take care of COVID patients,” he continued.
Both pieces of legislation passed the House during the previous Congress, the Dream and Promise Act passed 237 to 187, while the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed by an even wider margin, 260 to 165, with nearly 35 House Republicans voting in support. But the Associated Press reports that Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise is trying to use unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S. as a cudgel to derail passing legislation.
But then again, that’s not a surprise from someone like Steve Scalise, who once reportedly called himself “like David Duke without the baggage,” and in 2014 admitted that he once addressed a white nationalist group. So one gets the impression Steve will use any excuse to oppose a bill, including vulnerable kids. “Democrats were showing no signs of wavering from either bill,” the AP said.
Both bills need our support, and even if you’re sure that your House member supports the bills, give them a call anyway to continue showing support for DACA recipients, TPS and DED holders, and farmworkers.
“The American people are ready for decisive action to put undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship,” America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry said earlier this month. “Democrats in Congress are ready. President Biden and Vice-President Harris are ready. And most of all immigrant youth, TPS holders, farm workers and other undocumented immigrants are ready. This is the year to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. Inaction is not an option. Victory is within reach.”