At a time when immigration is at the center of an increasingly heated debate, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that would clear the path to citizenship for over a million undocumented immigrants.
The bill passed 237-187, causing the Democratic-controlled House to erupt in chants of “Sí se puede” (“Yes, we can”). However, despite support in the House, the bill will most likely be rejected in the GOP-controlled Senate which has been pushing for stricter immigration laws.
Even in a scenario where it passes the Senate, the bill would never be signed by President Donald Trump, who has been attempting to end these programs since taking office.
Still, CNN writes, the passage is a victory for Democrats and undocumented immigrants whose fate has been tied up in the courts.
Last month, President Trump introduced a plan to overhaul the American immigration system, but the plan failed to include beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, who have now been included in the Democratic bill.
On Monday, the Supreme Court handed another legal victory to Democrats when it temporarily declined a Justice Department request to consider whether to take up a case concerning the Trump administration’s decision to phase out DACA. However, the possibility that the court takes up one of the cases still remains, although it is very slim.
So far, the justices have not acted upon the administration’s earlier requests to take up the issue, CNN also writes.
After the “Dream and Promise Act of 2019” was passed Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed during a news conference that “there should be nothing partisan or political about this legislation.” But the bill is most likely to remain Democratic-only legislation.
It addresses recipients of the DACA program and two other programs – Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure. The bill allows Dreamers who qualify for permanent residence in the U.S. to get conditional resident status for up to 10 years. To obtain legal status, immigrants must have a qualifying petitioner that is someone who can sponsor them, most often a family member or employer.
However, the fact that they are in the country illegally almost always presents an obstacle.
Now, the bill offers a reprieve by giving these immigrants an opportunity to gain lawful permanent resident status as long as they have resided in the US for at least three years and have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.